May 2, 2011, 4:23 PM

Google has the best reputation among 60 companies in a new Harris survey

Amazon also earns high marks for consumers’ willingness to recommend the company.

Lead Photo has taken over the top spot from Berkshire Hathaway to become the highest-ranked business in the 12th Annual Harris Interactive U.S. Reputation Quotient survey.  

The company based its findings on 30,014 online interviews conducted between Dec. 30 and Feb. 22. Harris asked consumers to rate 60 companies’ reputations across 20 attributes, including financial performance, products and services, workplace environment and emotional appeal. “We have always believed that if we focus on making the best products for our users all else will follow,” says Gary Briggs, Google vice president of consumer marketing.

Among e-retailers, Apple Inc. ranked fifth, Inc. eighth and Sony Corp. 14th, with scores of 82.05, 81.14 and 80.44, respectively. Google scored 84.05. Scores of 80 or higher are considered excellent.

Each of those scores improved from a year ago, when Google ranked third with a score of 81.49, Amazon ranked ninth last year with a score of 79.57, Apple 12th at 79.31 and Sony 16th with a score of 78.66.

Best Buy posted the biggest increase among e-retailers with a 3.73 point jump to 75.92 from 72.19.

Overall, retail was second only to technology in generating positive impressions from consumers, as 57% of respondents have positive feelings about retail businesses. That’s a five percentage point jump from a year ago.

Not surprisingly, the survey found a strong relationship between a brand’s reputation and the likelihood that consumers would recommend the company. led all companies in consumers’ willingness to recommend the brand with 59% of consumer’s saying they would “definitely” recommend Amazon to others. It was the only e-retailer in the top five brands in this category.

Moreover, was also the most trusted brand in the survey, with 45% of consumers saying they would “definitely” trust the company in the event of a product or service problem. Apparel retailer Kohl’s was fifth at 40%. also had the highest number of positive ratings for “excellent customer service,” at 81%. Sony was fifth at 79%.

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