Ford bumps Toyota as world's greenest brand, survey shows

The 10 greenest brands
20142013BRAND/INDUSTRY
12Ford/automotive
21Toyota/automotive
33Honda/automotive
45Nissan/automotive
54Panasonic/electronics
69Nokia/electronics
711Sony/electronics
815Adidas/sporting goods
98Danone/food
1010Dell/technology
Source: Interbrand, Best Global Green Brands
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NASHVILLE -- Ford displaced Toyota as the world’s greenest brand in a new ranking of consumer perceptions of companies’ environmental behavior.

Toyota, known around the world for its popular fuel-efficient hybrid-drive Prius, has been the perennial leader on the Best Global Green Brands ranking, published by the brand consulting firm Interbrand.

Conducted with Deloitte Consulting, the annual survey gauges consumer perceptions in markets around the world, combined with data on how companies operate internally and report their environmental behavior.

Toyota lost ground on the survey this year for mostly corporate reasons, says Interbrand CEO Jez Frampton. The automaker was not as transparent as in years past about such nonproduct issues as water usage, greenhouse gas and business travel, he says.

At the same time, Ford improved its ranking this year partly by communicating better on the environmental activities of its supply chain, Frampton says.

“Businesses realize that green perceptions matter to consumers,” he said in an interview with Automotive News. “Consumers want to do right by the planet, and there is an opportunity for companies who allow them to do so.”

The four greenest brands on the survey are automakers, with Honda and Nissan coming in behind Ford and Toyota.

Nissan, which is enjoying more environmental awareness for selling the all-electric Leaf in multiple world markets, rose from fifth place to fourth on this year’s list.

Roel de Vries, Nissan’s global head of marketing, communication and brand strategy, says that Nissan’s improved performance partly reflects growing global awareness of the zero-emission Leaf.

“Two years ago, Nissan was not in the top 10,” de Vries said today by telephone from Japan. “We are making steady progress in our message to consumers, and I expect us to continue to rise in the ranking.”

De Vries also noted that the ranking provides a service to companies in illustrating the gap between what efforts they are making and how clearly consumers are hearing that message. The ranking indicates that all four of the top-performing automakers are actually doing a better job of behaving green than consumers understand. In other cases, major brands including Apple, General Electric and IKEA enjoy a greener consumer perception than the companies’ actual efforts warrant, according to the survey.

“In our case, I don’t believe that’s simply the fault of our advertising agency,” de Vries says. “It tells us that we have an opportunity to do a better job of getting our green message out to our customers.

“We’re already having discussions internally about how to go about that.”

You can reach Lindsay Chappell at lchappell@crain.com.


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