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Axios: 3 trends driving corporate image

The Axios Harris Poll 100 ranks the reputations of the most visible U.S. companies, based on a nationally representative sample of 18,228 Americans, and the rankings are billed as "a measurement of what real people think right now about the companies in our cultural conversation."

The big picture: From the world's most influential tech companies to the places where Americans shop to eat everyday, there are three big trends that Harris uncovered in this year's poll.

1) De-FAANGed by the techlash ... The West Coast tech stocks known as FAANG (Facebook, Amazon, Apple, Netflix, Google) fell amid privacy scandals:

  • Facebook took the hardest hit, dropping 43 spots (from #51 last year to #94). Google fell 13 spots, from #28 to #41. Apple, which peaked in 2016 at #2, slipped from #29 to #32. Netflix dropped from #21 to #24. Amazon broke its three-year streak in the top spot, falling to #2 this year.
  • Microsoft, the once-derided '90s monopolistic colossus, "now looks as friendly and benign as its founder, Bill Gates," at #9, up two spots.

2) Captains of controversy: When the celebrity CEO becomes a liability ... Last year, Tesla was everybody's darling. This year, with CEO Elon Musk fueling controversy, the electric-car company dropped 39 spots, from #3 in 2018 to #42, with declines in rankings for character, trust and ethics.

  • "The lesson for chief communications officers: don’t put all your eggs in [the CEO] basket," Harris advises. "Better to spread out your authority across your leadership and pick your social issues carefully."

3) The wellness revolution: The death of the processed marketplace ... Supermarkets are big winners: Wegmans, the Rochester-based chain with a cult following, ranks #1 this year and leads top 10 rankings in culture, ethics and citizenship.

  • Wegmans is recognized in its communities for hiring local talent, fostering its workforce and representing a local reprieve from a toxic culture.
  • Publix (#6), Kroger (#21) and Aldi (#23) ranked high for trust, ethics and culture.
  • Why it matters: There's now a huge opportunity "for companies to reinvent themselves around nutrition, betterment and optimism."

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