Bridgestone Americas manufactures consumer- and commercial grade tires, air springs for cargo trucks, high-tech sports car suspensions, roofing materials, insulation, synthetic polymers, modern plastics, and industrial fibers and textiles. It’s one of North America’s largest corporations with more than 50,000 employees, 2,000+ Firestone Complete Auto Care retail outlets and 90+ manufacturing and distribution facilities. Exactly how do you measure the reputation of a company like this?
Many of Bridgestone’s CSR/environmental programs exceeded industry standards but the “dirty" nature of its industry made the Company uneasy about touting green and clean programs. When time came to share its positive Corporate news, Bridgestone struggled with what to say, when to say it, and, whether to say anything at all. Their relative silence had a neutralizing and often negative impact on reputation.
At our point of entry, Bridgestone’s internal and external communications were random and disconnected. One national index cited the absence of publicly evident sustainability commitments when ranking Bridgestone's reputation 6068 out of 6074 companies. A second index docked Bridgestone for scant progress and self-reporting, while a third eliminated the Company completely because its parent company failed to return crucial questionnaires. Our charge was to measure the existing corporate reputation and engineer a 360º communications plan that would convert Bridgestone’s sustainability efforts in North America into consumer confidence, sales and reputation success.
We began with a comprehensive Reputation Audit to measure the company’s public standing and to inform intentional strategies for improvement plans. Our deep-dive discovery involved:
Interviews of 22 C-suite and senior level managers across North America for executive perspectives on existing corporate strategies, omissions and achievements.
An online employee survey of 3,500 teammates across 25 office locations to measure baseline workforce opinions on impact and improvement areas.
A thorough audit of past and current reputation management efforts, both internal and external. This allowed us to identify missed opportunities, and missed assessments, both high and low.
A broad comparison against its five top competitors across 29 attributes in four key performance categories. This phase took into account social, environmental and sustainability indexes such as the Dow Jones Sustainability Index, FTSE4Good, the NASDAQ Global Sustainability Index, the Carbon Disclosure Leadership Index and other ratings by industry watchdogs.
A comprehensive audit of issues, both real and perceived, that posed operational, regulatory and reputation risk to Bridgestone’s good works, including prioritization, 360º communication, cultural biases, and overall (mis)perceptions of the corporate sustainability agenda.
Our three-month discovery project culminated with a 57-page benchmarking of Bridgestone’s reputation, and informed the Company’s first-ever strategy for achieving strategic, data-based activity toward a best in class reputation. Defining, determining and documenting Bridgestone’s leading and trailing positions enabled more logic-filled discussions with executives on how to leverage intentional actions into consumer and media value.
Ultimately, we leveraged the corporation’s CSR/sustainability accomplishments into improved public perceptions and provided a plan that called for more intentional reputation strategies, executive leadership commitment, teammate collaboration and communication, increased external disclosure/transparency, more aligned community partnerships, online enhancements, and overall stronger messaging.