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How Apple, GE brands weather bad press


According to YouGov BrandIndex, Apple's public reputation in the U.S. is "Teflon" compared to another large brand -- GE. YouGov BrandIndex compared the two companies, both of which have recently gone through tax avoidance "scandals," and found that Apple's reputation was untarnished and almost unchanged after the recent NY Times revelation (disproved by Forbes and trashed by Apple) that the company avoids paying taxes in 21 different states.

The chart above was published by YouGov BrandIndex and shows the relative reputation score of both GE and Apple within five days of news of alleged tax avoidance by each company. Apple's reputation actually rose after the event -- probably after the company's heated response to the Times -- and then settled back to almost the previous level after a few days.

By comparison, GE -- which had suffered its own tax avoidance scandal in 2011 when it was discovered that the company paid no U.S. taxes on US$14.2 billion in worldwide profits and actually pulled in a tax benefit of $3.2 billion -- had a massive 19-point reputation score drop over five days. It took GE's reputation almost two months to recover from the bad news.

What YouGov BrandIndex seems to be missing out of this entire story is that the alleged Apple tax avoidance was quickly called out by Forbes as total ignorance and misstatement by the NY Times, not as malfeasance on the part of Apple. In GE's case, the answer was not so simple.

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