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H&R Block suffers in brand rankings

Updated: 2013-08-22T21:29:00Z

By MARK DAVIS

The Kansas City Star

H&R Block Inc., the Kansas City-based tax preparer, finished third from the bottom in a new ranking of least-respected brands among large public companies. Only Delta and Philip Morris ranked lower among more than 500 companies tracked.

CoreBrand, which helps companies manage and improve their brands, said it based its rankings on surveys of what it calls business decision makers and high-level consumers.

H&R Block spokesman Gene King noted that CoreBrand’s survey takers didn’t match up with Block’s client base, whom he described in an email as “hard working, middle-class Americans.”

“We are pleased our clients, who visited us in record numbers last year, give us among the highest satisfaction scores in the industry,” King said. “The fact that our do-it-yourself solutions gained in market share the past few years and clients return annually speaks to how much our clients respect and favor our brand.”

Block recently scored a coup with Consumer Reports’ first rankings of prepaid cards. Block’s Emerald Card was one of only three to earn the group’s recommendation to consumers.

The most respected companies in CoreBrand’s rankings included Coca-Cola and PepsiCo., which tied for first, and Hershey’s. Maybe there are some sweet-toothed survey takers out there.

Harley-Davidson, which makes motorcycles in Kansas City, ranked fourth, and Bayer, which also has Kansas City operations, ranked fifth.

As for H&R Block, CoreBrand cited “an unclear culprit” for the company’s falling favorability scores. It noted that Block’s reputation and perceptions of its management — which are two categories it tracks — “have been in steady decline since the early 2000s.”

“The company was been tangled in several small scandals around privacy and accusations of deceptive practices, and it rebranded in 2005.”

The headlines haven’t been all rosy. This spring, Block had problems with electronic filing and an education refund credit that delayed some customers’ refunds.

In Block’s defense, CoreBrand said these aren’t the least favorable brands it tracks, just the least favorable among widely known companies. Each, it said, suffers a big mismatch between familiarity and favorability.

CoreBrand claims none of the top 10 companies as clients. Among area companies, it does work with American Century Investments, EPR Properties and WireCo World Group.

To reach Mark Davis, call 816-234-4372 or send email to mdavis@kcstar.com.

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