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The Likeability Factor: Corporate Personality Matters! (Part 1 of 3)


In January of this year the Wall Street Journal's Marketwatch website published a list of the "10 most-hated companies in America". They were:

  • J.C. Penney
  • Dish Network
  • T-Mobile
  • Facebook
  • Citigroup
  • Research in Motion
  • American Airlines
  • Nokia
  • Sears Holding Corp.
  • Hewlett-Packard

Why these companies? Editors reviewed metrics that rated customer satisfaction, stock performance and employee satisfaction. Their thesis: that, depending on whose perspective the sentiment is coming from, the key drivers of corporate distaste could be prompted by anything from angering customers, failing shareholders or mistreating employees. (In the not-too-distant media past we might also add to this list: harming the environment and engaging in criminal activity).

Taking a more positive perspective, Business Insider created a list of the most loved brands of 2012. The five companies that gained the most love (based on a social media analysis) were:

  • Apple
  • LinkedIn
  • JetBlue
  • Adidas
  • Starbucks

So, why the difference? What makes Apple more appealing than Citigroup? And, can businesses really be "Likeable"?

The Impact of B2B Likeability
We all recognize the positive impact that being "likeable" can have on our lives. Even HR professionals and hiring managers will admit that "the Likeability factor" often influences selection choices. But, it may not be so evident that corporate personalities matter too.

Shaun Walker is creative director with HERO farm ( in New Orleans, a marketing strategy and design services firm. "In today's world, we're all worried about perception, and rightfully so," says Walker. "Likeability is what everyone wants and is at the forefront of our day-to-day interactions, even for businesses."

Walker points to Facebook's use of the "Like" feature as a key factor in making the importance of Likeability something tangible that is worthy of pursuit.

Facebook has made "Likeability" a key driver of the social media age. Both B2C and B2B companies have set up pages on Facebook which they try to position in a positive way to gain "likes" from consumers, presumably based on some positive sentiment toward the organization. Coca-Cola tops the list as "most liked" with more than 55 million likes. But what does this really mean?

Next week... read how perception is another key driver and one that businesses have come to impact through actions tied to community advocacy and corporate social responsibility.

Lin Grensing-Pophal has written on topics ranging from health and wellness, to careers and HR-related topics, to marketing and social media. Her most recent book, "The Complete Idiot's Guide to Strategic Planning" (Penguin), was released in spring 2011. Lin is a member of the American Society of Journalists and Authors, the Association of Health Care Journalists, and the Society of Professional Journalists.