The newest figures come from the FutureBrand Index 2020, which takes PwC’s Global Top 100 Companies by Market Cap and instead measures them by strength of perception, using metrics including “passion” and “innovation” to gauge how the largest companies are viewed both internally and externally.

According to the study, the five companies that saw the greatest positive shift were Royal Dutch Shell, Roche, Oracle, L’Oréal and Walmart. Conversely, Gilead Sciences, Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway and China Life Insurance were noted as 2020's biggest fallers.

The biggest winners were consumer brands, including heavyweights like Walmart, Netflix and L’Oréal, which the report noted as examples of “how a proactive response to the pandemic” has resulted in boosted external and internal company images. Successful consumer brands are perceived as caring about their clients and staff while also being able to provide customers with what they want.

Apple topped the list for strength of perception in 2020, while financial services suffered overall, with the most notable casualty being Berkshire Hathaway's dramatic slide from 29 to 83 on the list.


Perhaps unsurprisingly, healthcare and pharmaceutical brands fared notably better than most, being perceived as innovators focused on human needs.

Jon Tipple, Global Chief Strategy Officer at FutureBrand, commented on the impact of COVID-19 on the study’s results. “The biggest link between the best performing companies in the index is that they’ve all shown a highly individual response to COVID-19 as well as other significant market and societal shifts,” he said.

This means prioritising what their staff and customers need and want most and delivering with oodles of authentic personality even if it means breaking with category conventions and norms. While these traits were once a ‘nice-to-have’, they are now crucial for corporate success.”