Brand Architect has long argued the importance of corporate social responsibility in boosting a company’s brand. Microsoft, often derided as a global corporate bully, has just benefited from Bill Gates’s charitable work by garnering the top spot in eighth-annual Harris Interactive/The Wall Street Journal ranking of the world's best and worst corporate reputations.
From The Wall Street Journal:
"Microsoft Corp. founder Bill Gates proved even more appealing than cuddly babies in the eighth-annual Harris Interactive/The Wall Street Journal ranking of the world's best and worst corporate reputations.
Top-ranked Microsoft managed to beat Johnson & Johnson, whose emotionally appealing baby-products business had kept it in first place for a remarkable seven consecutive years. In the Reputation Quotient survey conducted by market-research firm Harris Interactive Inc., respondents gave Microsoft very high marks for leadership and financial results. But Mr. Gates's personal philanthropy also boosted the public's opinion of Microsoft.
“The involvement of Bill Gates and his wife in their charitable foundation has had a definite impact on Microsoft's reputation,” says Enriqueta Lopez Ramos, a survey respondent and retired university professor in San Benito, Texas. "It's hard to separate Bill Gates's image from that of Microsoft; to me, they're one and the same."
Social responsibility, which is becoming an ever more critical component of corporate reputation, contributed to the positive survey results for several other companies, including Whole Foods Market Inc. and Merck & Co."
The Business of Social Responsibility