Troubling economic times have hit many companies - especially carmakers - hard, tarnishing brand image and decreasing confidence in their fitness for the future. Toyota seems to have escaped untouched, however, with a recent survey naming it the most respected company in the world. A comprehensive survey by New York-based private research and consulting firm Reputation Institute took stock of over 1,000 companies’ brand images, evaluating respondents’ perceptions of trust, esteem, admiration and good feeling to determine the final result.

Ranking as the only vehicle manufacturer with a score of more than 80 - placing it in the top tier of all manufacturers - Toyota also finished first in five of seven categories overall, earning it the title of World’s Most Respected company.

Strong consumer perceptions of quality and value along with safety and reliability put the Toyota brand at the top of the charts. The way the company stands behind its products also influenced the results, showing that not only consumers, but the company itself, has confidence in the cars produced.

That confidence has been shaken somewhat in recent years as Toyota continues to grow into one of the largest carmakers in the world. Earlier this year its CEO, Katsuaki Watanabe, admitted that brisk growth had cost the company some of its quality control, referring to the problem as ‘big company disease.’

Specific issues caused by the rapid expansion include a number of recalls and model development delays, though Watanabe was quick to point out that Toyota has analyzed the problem and implemented policies to reduce or remove the root causes. Those underlying issues stem from the vast network of suppliers, designers, producers and developers involved in the production and distribution of Toyota’s cars.