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Expand chart
Data: Harris Poll; Chart: Danielle Alberti/Axios

Wells Fargo is no longer viewed as the least ethical big company in America. That's the big lesson from the most recent Axios Harris reputation poll.

Why it matters: After hitting extreme Axios Harris lows in 2017, Wells Fargo embarked upon a massive public rehabilitation campaign in 2018. It seems to have worked.

Flashback: The bad news started with the revelation in 2016 that the bank had created millions of fake accounts and opened them without the account holders' permission or even knowledge. It didn't end there — a series of scandals followed, tarnishing Wells Fargo's reputation — and that of its former CEO.

By the numbers: Wells Fargo's "ethics" score of 38.9 in 2017 was by far the lowest in the history of the poll. (Wells Fargo and the Trump Organization are the only companies to ever score under 50.) This year, it has recovered to 62 — a big jump, even if it's still in the bottom five.

  • Overall, Wells Fargo's reputation score of 63 in 2021 puts it well ahead of Facebook, tied with TikTok, and slightly behind Comcast.
  • Other banks have also been improving. The reputation score for Bank of America, for instance, increased from 59.7 to 70.5 between 2017 and 2021.

The bottom line: Banks are generally unloved, with the notable exception of USAA, which has outperformed in every year of the survey. And Wells Fargo remains at the bottom of the banking pack. That said, the sector as a whole is improving.

Go deeper

Felix Salmon, author of Capital
May 13, 2021 - Economy & Business

ExxonMobil is perceived as more ethical than Google

Data: Axios Harris Poll 100; Chart: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios

Every year, Axios and Harris Poll gauge the reputation of the most visible brands in America — part of which is a survey of how ethical companies are perceived to be.

The big picture: Pfizer, unsurprisingly, has led the gainers over the course of the pandemic, seeing its ethics score rise from 58.9 in 2019 to 77.4 in 2021.

A divided nation flocks to partisan brands

Data: Harris Poll; Chart: Danielle Alberti/Axios

Americans are leaning into companies that have strong political positions, in the wake of one of the country's most divisive election years.

Driving the news: New rankings from the Axios/Harris 100 poll — an annual survey to gauge the reputation of the most visible brands in the country — show that brands with clear partisan identifications are becoming more popular.

May 13, 2021 - Politics & Policy

The 2021 Axios Harris Poll 100 reputation rankings

This survey is the result of a partnership between Axios and Harris Poll to gauge the reputation of the most visible brands in America, based on 20 years of Harris Poll research. From the Patagonia to SpaceX, here's how this year's class stacks up.

Methodology: The Axios Harris Poll 100 is based on a survey of 42,935 Americans in a nationally representative sample conducted April 8-21, 2021. The two-step process starts fresh each year by surveying the public’s top-of-mind awareness of companies that either excel or falter in society.

  • These 100 “most visible companies” are then ranked by a second group of Americans across the seven key dimensions of reputation to arrive at the ranking. If a company is not on the list, it did not reach a critical level of visibility to be measured.