PRmoment Leaders PRCA PA Mediapoint PA Assignments PRmoment Awards Winners North

The reputation of companies operating in the UK declines for the first time since 2008, claims research

The reputation of companies operating in the UK has declined overall for the first time since the financial crisis in 2008, according to the latest UK RepTrak study, from research and advisory firm Reputation Institute.

The top 10 companies, who are all considered to have an “excellent” reputation are:

  1. Rolex
  2. LEGO Group
  3. Bosch
  4. Dyson
  5. Nintendo
  6. Rolls-Royce Aerospace
  7. Sony
  9. Samsung Electronics
  10. The Walt Disney Company

Rolex, LEGO and Samsung have maintained last year’s positions, whilst Bosch, Dyson, Nintendo, Roll-Royce, Amazon and Samsung reputations are improving. Walt Disney has moved down from third to tenth place

The following companies have seen the largest improvements from 2017 to 2018: The below companies have seen the largest declines from 2017 to 2018:
L'Oréal (+10.9) Delta Air Lines (-11.4)
Merlin Entertainments Group (+9.7) Uber (-11.2)
Nintendo (+8.6) Ryanair (-10.6) (+8.3) LinkedIn (-10.3)
ASDA (+8.1) 888 Holding (-10.1)
Wickes (+7.8) Sanofi (-8.8)
Severn Trent (+7.3) RSA Insurance (-8.7)
EE (+6.8) Whirlpool (-8.7)
Greggs (+6.7) Intel (-8.1)
Sports Direct International (+6.7) Vodafone (-7.9)

Key findings

  • Uber, LinkedIn, Ryanair and 888 amongst those with greatest reputational decline
  • Major drop in the levels of trust and confidence in UK companies. 10% fall in consumers’ willingness to trust, invest in or endorse companies
  • Only a fifth of Brits believe companies communicate in a way that is relevant to them
  • Poor communication drives reputation decline, 69% don’t know what companies’ corporate governance practices are

Looking at how consumers are less impressed by businesses these days, the most significant drop is in their willingness to provide companies with the benefit of the doubt (-13%) followed by a 11% decrease in consumers saying something positive about an organisation and a 10% decrease in their views around companies’ investments and trust to do the right thing. 

Supportive behaviour




Benefit of doubt




Say positive








Trust to do the right thing




Work for




Welcome to neighbourhood




Recommend Company








Discussing why the public is becoming disenchanted with UK firms, Harry Foster, director of consulting at Reputation Institute, says it comes down to trust:“There is a ‘crisis of trust’ which resides amongst UK businesses. The general public has become increasingly sceptical towards governments, politicians, and companies, driven by significant uncertainty and change in the world due to factors such as Brexit, Trump, geo-political issues, fake news, concerns over data protection and data security (Facebook’s current scandal being one reason for this).

There is a ‘crisis of trust’ which resides amongst UK businesses. The general public has become increasingly sceptical towards governments, politicians, and companies

“The decreased willingness of stakeholders to give companies the benefit of the doubt and trust suggests consumers do not want companies to just communicate appropriately or regularly, it means companies need to do so with a level of sincerity.”

In terms of what businesses can do to improve trust levels, Foster concludes that they must communicate better: “Faced with the weight of the many political and economic uncertainties that currently exist in the UK, companies must be prepared to communicate with a deliberate and authentic voice. Hence, the role of a communications professional is now more important than ever.”


The RepTrak survey, based on more than 31,000 ratings collected in the first quarter of 2018 from members of the UK general public, includes comparative ratings, trends by demographic cuts, and insights into which companies are best regarded by stakeholders as well as what drives trust and supportive behaviours such as willingness to purchase a company’s products, recommend the brand, invest in or even work for the company. To access the full list visit

If you enjoyed this article, sign up for free to our twice weekly editorial alert.

We have six email alerts in total - covering ESG, internal comms, PR jobs and events. Enter your email address below to find out more: