Research shows businesses that have a strong reputation among the public are more likely to survive economic downturns.
This was proven during the Global Financial Crisis in 2008 when organisations with strong brands were found to have recovered nine times than those that did not.
This is expected to ring true today and could mean the difference between the organisations that survive the Covid-19 pandemic.
Few circumstances test a company's reputation or competency as severely as a crisis.
Sarah Bolger, head of Colmar Brunton which conducted the research in partnership with Wright Communications, says having a strong brand reputation is "an extra layer of immunity" that helps an organisation "battle out difficult times".
"Without a strong reputation, there is potentially a chink in a brand's armour. Those with lower immunity are more vulnerable when times are tough," Bolger said.
The latest Colmar Brunton Corporate Reputation Index shows that Air New Zealand remains in the top spot, for the sixth year in a row, followed by TVNZ who moved up one spot up in this year's index.
Pak'n Save was ranked in third place, with the highest ranking overall for fairness, followed by Toyota - one of just two international brands with a top 10 reputation in New Zealand.
AA Insurance, Kiwibank, Fisher & Paykel, The Warehouse and New World ranked respectively, followed by Countdown and Southern Cross.
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Auckland Airport and ASB Bank declined in rankings. Auckland Airport made the top 10 last year, but moved down six places in this year's index.
The survey was conducted in December before the onset of Covid-19, however an April read of New Zealanders show the top companies' reputations remain intact, said Bolger.
She said trusted companies, those with a strong sense of purpose and those that were perceived as fair and responsible, had the highest reputations among the public.
Despite Air New Zealand and TVNZ feeling the economic strain from the pandemic, Bolger said these brands were likely to make it out the other side of the crisis as they had strong reputations.
"Global data shows that brands that have a strong reputation and a high level of trust are much more likely to weather the storm and also recover more quickly in times of crisis. Any brand that is stronger in terms of reputation is going to fare better than those are weaker.
"Even though businesses have been really decimated, for example, Air New Zealand; there's no doubt that their business has changed beyond recognition, however, New Zealanders still have a real sense of trust in that brand and there's trust that [it] will find a way through and they want to see them succeed because there is a element of pride that goes with that," Bolger said.
"Some businesses have been given an advantage in that they have been able to continue trading as essential services, but even if they hadn't had that privilege, I think they would be in a position to bounce back further because people have that inherent trust in them as they've been seen to be doing the right thing."
Wright Communications' managing director Nikki Wright said Colmar Brunton's polling during the Covid-19 lockdown showed many of the top performing brands were living up to their reputations as trusted leaders in their industries.
The research showed that businesses that stopped communication and advertising during times of crisis often took longer to recover.
Bolger said a resilient brand often translated to greater confidence among the public.
Fifteen New Zealand corporates were found to sit in the "resilient zone", and brands that were trusted among consumers were positioned for significantly better growth.
"If you are a resilient brand, [people] have greater faith in your ability to deliver."
Foodstuffs had two of its supermarket brands - Pak'nSave and New World - featured in the top 10 list of companies in New Zealand with the strongest brands.
Dominic Quin, Foodstuffs group general manager of marketing and customer experience, said building trust within a corporate was about "doing what you say you will do and delivering on that".
"Our brands need to show leadership more than ever as New Zealand rebuilds post-Covid-19. For Pak'nSave that means doing its part to ensure Kiwis have access to healthy and affordable food – access to food should not be a privilege but as households face increased financial pressure due to potential job losses and wider economic pressure delivering on the promise of New Zealand's lowest grocery prices will be more important.
"New World's focus in the short term, in addition to delivering affordable food and grocery solutions, will be focused on social sustainability and doing our part to make sure those who need help have access to the support they need. This means supporting food banks and food rescue organisations who are uniquely placed to meet the need of our most vulnerable New Zealanders as well as working closely to continue to build local communities around our stores," Quin said.
Nearly two thirds of New Zealanders surveyed in the research said they anticipated the country would take more than six months to return to normality.