Bank of America's reputation among consumers fell more than any other company's in 2011, according to an annual study from Harris Interactive. The Charlotte bank's performance capped a terrible year for corporate America -- and the financial industry in particular -- in the public's eye.
Harris Interactive determines a company's "Reputational Quotient" based on interviews with 17,000 people about their views of the company's service, financial performance, leadership and other measures. This year, Bank of America's index fell to 49.85, down from 59.83 last year.
A score below 50 represents that a company has "reached such a low point that their viability may be called into question," Harris executive vice president Robert Fronk said in a video explaining the results. Twelve companies have fallen below the point in the 13 years of the poll, and 10 of them -- like MCI, Enron and Fannie Mae -- have failed or been taken over by the government.
It is definitely possible for a company to rehab its image, Harris said. General Motors and Toyota have both dramatically improved in recent years.
While Bank of America received decent marks in financial performance, it suffered mightily in its "emotional appeal," which involves trust and respect.
"The general public believes that Bank of America has been more concerned with operational and financial recovery than with customers and rates the bank low in levels of trust, ethics, and customer service," the company said in a news release. "In order to rebuild their reputation, Bank of America will need to engage beyond this functional rebound."
It was a bad year for corporations' reputation in general. Only 20 percent said corporate America's reputation is positive. Financial firms were particularly buffeted.
Goldman Sachs and AIG joined Bank of America with sub-50 scores.
Apple took the top spot with a score that set an all-time high. Google finished second.