Explaining 'Explain yourself'

Our newly published 'Explain yourself' Index is designed to highlight the companies that are best at telling their stories online. David Bowen answers some questions on it.

What is the 'Explain yourself' Index?

It's a ranking of the 15 large companies that most successfully use their corporate websites and social media channels as their 'voice'. Every company puts huge effort into selling its products and services, but few put much into 'selling' the company itself. By that we mean explaining what it does, how it is is run, who runs it, its values, its history, and so on. And - for companies that run into trouble (as most do at some point) - how well they use the internet to manage their reputations. 

You already produce the Bowen Craggs Index - how is this different?

This is a both a prologue and a development of the Bowen Craggs Index of Online Excellence. The next full Index will be published in the New Year, and will cover online communications from many different angles - from usability to job application mechanisms. The 'Explain yourself' Index takes two of the 27 sub-metrics we use - on company information and 'building a reputation for responsibility', and rescores them in a more granular fashion. The methodology is fully explained in the document you can download below.

Why is the internet so important for explaining yourself?

Because it has become the default destination for people wanting to find out ... pretty much anything. If they are wondering about working for a company, or they hear something negative and want to check it out, or they are looking for a good stock to buy, they will go to Google. If the company has done its SEO properly, they should then find their way to a corporate site (which may be central or country-specific). That is why some corporate sites have tens of millions of visits a year. Yet few of the people charged with 'selling' their company - for example in press, IR, HR and CSR teams, and most importantly their bosses - have realized just how important the web is for them. The exceptions, obviously, work in the companies that make up our Index.

Why is Nestlé at the top?

Mainly for its reputation management effort. The 'Ask Nestlé' section is unique, because it combines high-profile 'get in touch' devices with FAQs on topics that range from one-off crises to the decades-old baby milk controversy. Swiss companies are often thought of as secretive - Nestlé is fighting the image, and its main tool is the internet. 

What about the other top scorers?

They vary greatly. Several are strong on reputation management (look at all those oil, pharma and tobacco companies), but Axa gets in by being brilliant visually and telling stories well; Unilever infuses its sites with great 'responsibility' detail; and Luxottica is very good at explaining what it does. 

Why has Bowen Craggs produced this Index?

Partly as a teaser for the full Index, but also because we wanted to produce something that would convince the most senior people in large companies that online corporate comms should be taken as seriously as it deserves. So please download our document and pass it on - and up.

Download the 'Explain yourself' Index