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Toyota, iPhone 4S and BP Among Top Brand Image Gainers of 2011

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While Toyota (TM) saw Volkswagen snatch its crown for being the largest automaker in terms of sales worldwide in 2011, there was some good news for the Japanese company, as a new ranking of American corporate brands revealed that Toyota was the greatest gainer in terms of brand image last year.
If you recall, Toyota’s image to a beating in 2010 thanks to a problem with fault acceleration that led to the recall of over 13 million cars. From that low point, Toyota’s BrandIndex Buzz score, as calculated by YouGov, has registered the biggest improvement, increasing by 23.7 points. The company has yet to regain the top position among auto competitors though.
Finishing second was Apple’s (AAPL) iPhone 4S. Yes, contrary to what we might have expected given the fierce criticism back last year that the phone was an underwhelming upgrade, it seems that Siri eventually proved to be a big hit with consumers, with the iPhone registering an increase of 10.6 points.
According to YouGov, “these brands were rated using YouGov BrandIndex’s Buzz score which asks respondents, "If you've heard anything about the brand in the last two weeks, through advertising, news or word of mouth, was it positive or negative?"??
BP (BP), which enjoyed the best public perception in the oil and gas industry before 2010, took a big hit when the Deepwater Horizon oil spill occurred. The company’s buzz score started improving in July 2010, however, and it placed third in 2011.
Other brands that featured in BrandIndex’s Top 10 buzz improvers include Goldman Sachs (GS), Chrysler, United Healthcare (UNH), and NBC (CMCSK).
POSITION:  No positions in stocks mentioned.