Public Trusts Smaller Companies More Than Big Companies

By John Gerzema, CEO, The Harris Poll | San Francisco Chronicle |

Last week, Google CEO Sundar Pichai participated in his first public testimony before Congress in more than a year. Throughout 2018, Pichai, and tech peers from Facebook, Twitter and Uber, have seen their brands take public thrashings in the media, as well as in Congress, for not doing enough to combat hate speech or protect their users’ sensitive data. Just a few years ago, these Silicon Valley giants were the trusted brands advancing America’s future. Today, much of that goodwill is spent.

Since the global financial crisis, smaller companies that connect locally with customers — providing more personalized service and demonstrating values that resonate within their local communities — are now more esteemed, more readily trusted than the old-style giants.

If you grew up as I did in the ’60s and ’70s, your view of the world was populated with big companies that held an extremely prominent place in society and in your life. They were your family’s employers, the backbone of the economy, the makers of the products you trusted. From the Ford Motor Company to Kraft Foods, from ITT to U.S. Steel, these companies were deeply respected.