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Huawei has been ranked the most reputable corporate local brand in China, while companies from the United States dominate the rankings for foreign brands.

This is according to a new study jointly-conducted by Racepoint Global and Reputation Institute, which found that Huawei outperforms local and foreign counterparts including Apple in terms of transparency and open communication.

“Respondents in the study perceived Huawei as “genuine for what it says and stands for,” “stands out from the crowd” and “providing sufficient information.” Huawei in particular is a brand that is building a strong emotional connection over time,” Nicolas Georges Trad, co-founder and executive partner of Reputation Institute tells The Drum.

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In the foreign brands category, one brand that ranked surprisingly high was Michelin, which came in at number four. Trad explains that with the rise of the middle class and growing market for cars, Michelin has become a popular and trusted brand among Chinese consumers in recent years and is known for its premium, high-quality tires and customer service.

“The first mainland China edition of the Michelin Guide was published in Shanghai in 2016, adding to the brand’s relevance, visibility, and prestige among the Chinese public,” he adds.

The rankings were also noted for the omission of rising ecommerce and technology companies like Baidu, Alibaba and Tencent, popularly known as BAT. They came in the top 100 but were unable to crack the top 10.

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According to Trad, these brands need to focus more on building more transparency and trust among the public as Alibaba scores well on key dimensions of reputation like innovation, leadership and performance, but poorly in governance, citizenship and workplace.

For Baidu, the brand has been impacted by negative publicity in recent years, most notably due to the 2016 incident in which a cancer patient died after seeking dubious treatment discovered through a Baidu advertisement. It has also been questioned for allegedly not disclosing business investments in the past, bringing several regulatory issues to light. 

Trad urges BAT to follow in the footsteps of Google, who ranked third in the foreign brand rankings because it actively practices governance, fair business practices, ethical behaviour and data privacy.

“Google has a powerful reputation globally. In addition, most Chinese consumers are aware that Google provides open and uncensored Internet access, which may create a perception that the product is better quality,” explains Trad.

You can see the full rankings and read about the methodology here.