If it is true that it is better respected than to be liked, then Coca Cola (KO) and PepsiCo (PEP) can celebrate their position atop CoreBrand’s 2014 list of America’s most respected brands.
The consulting firm polls 10,000 executives (vice-president level and up) every year and ranks leading brands according to people’s familiarity and favorable feelings toward them, company management and investment potential.
But while Coke and Pepsi again led the way, their favorability ratings have been in slow, steady decline for years as both brands get caught in the war on obesity and the perceptions that their products are contributing to a national health crisis.
Apple (AAPL) landed in the Top 10 for the first time, buoyed by jumps in how people see the brand, but still held back by speculation as to whether CEO Tim Cook can do as well as the late CEO, co-founder Steve Jobs.
There were plenty consumer-facing brands at the bottom of the list, including Denny’s, Best Buy (BBY), J.C. Penney (JCP) and Family Dollar Stores (FDO).
For example, Penney, still trying to repair the damage from a failed experiment to go upscale two years ago, has a near perfect familiarity rating, but only 60% favorability.
And proving that there is no such publicity as bad publicity, Family Dollar only got on the list because people are more familiar with the name, probably because of all the headlines it’s made in the last year because of its declining comparable sales. And with Carl Icahn breathing down CEO Howard Levine’s neck, that could keep the discounter on the list for a while yet. “Now they need to focus on improving perceptions,” the report’s authors said.