RANK A BRAND IN A NUTSHELL
What is Rank a Brand's objective?
How does Rank a Brand aim to create change?
There are a lot of CSR ‘ranking’ initiatives already. What makes Rank a Brand so unique?
How transparent, green and fair is Rank a Brand?
THE EVALUATAION QUESTIONS
Rank a Brand assesses companies based on a list of 10 to 30 questions. What are these questions based on?
Rank a Brand assesses whether companies use ‘best practices’ within a given sector. What does this mean?
THE SCORING SYSTEM
The score of each company is shown in a score bar. How does the score bar work?
How are brands ranked?
How do the answers to questions lead to scores?
Why does Rank a Brand only have ‘yes’, ‘no’ or ‘?’ as the only possible answers, rather than, for example, a point scale from 0 to 10?
VALIDITY OF THE SCORING SYSTEM
Is a set of 10 to 30 questions sufficient for properly evaluating a brand?
Why does Rank a Brand only use information from companies’ websites and not from other sources, such as surveys and independent research reports?
How can Rank a Brand be sure that the information presented on brand websites is accurate?
Do brands have influence on the rankings?
THE RANKED BRANDS
Why can’t I find certain brands?
Why rank brands and not products or corporations?
Does Rank a Brand make a profit?
Is Rank a Brand sponsored by brands?
How is Rank a Brand funded?
RANK A BRAND IN A NUTSHELL
Q: What Rank a Brand's objective?
A: Rank a Brand's overall objective is to promote an economically, ecologically and socially sustainable and fair world. More specifically, we aim to encourage brands to improve their Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) reporting on carbon emissions, environmental record and labour conditions. You can read more about why we do this - and how - elsewhere on this site.
Q: How does Rank a Brand aim to create change?
A: Rank a Brand wants to empower consumers to choose companies that actually demonstrate that they care about how green and fair the world is. Many studies show that the majority of consumers are actually willing to buy green, but that ‘green’ brands are not easy to find (see here, for instance). At Rank a Brand, we make those 'green' brands easy to find.
Q There are a lot of CSR ‘ranking’ initiatives already. What makes Rank a Brand so unique?
A: Rank a Brand doesn't only rank one sector - we want to become THE website where ALL mainstream brands are ranked. Rank a Brand is unaffiliated to the ranked brands, ensuring our independence. Additionally, Rank a Brand is unique because our methods are 100% transparent and accessible, and thus controllable.
A: Rank a Brand is located close to a public transport node in Amsterdam, so everyone can get here by tram, train or bicycle (plus, most of our volunteers also work from home). We use green energy in our building, and our website is hosted on a CO2 neutral server. We are close to being a paperless office, and have furnished the place with second hand furniture and materials. We also refrain from flying by using videoconferencing as an alternative method of communication. Finally, we use as many sustainable products as we can in the office, such as Fair Trade certified coffee and tea.
THE EVALUATION QUESTIONS
Q: Rank a Brand assesses companies based on a list of 10 to 30 questions. What are these questions based on?
A: Every sector is different and requires a unique question list. That is why some question lists are longer than others. Every question list is based upon research into the specific issues facing each sector, as well as an assessment of the ‘best practices’ in that particular sector. For each sector, we ask questions on carbon emissions, environmental impact and human rights/labour conditions. For all information about the questions and their backgrounds, please see the online Manual for Rankers.
Q: Rank a Brand assesses whether companies use ‘best practices’ in their given sector. What does this mean?
A: The term ‘best practices’ refers to the most progressive initiatives in current CSR policies. The term does not imply that a company using these best practices is necessarily 100% ‘good’. And best practices change, becoming more progressive over time. Therefore, companies must continually adapt their policies to stay up-to-date. When the average practices within a sector do improve, Rank a Brand will expand and/or refine the criteria.
THE SCORING SYSTEM
Q: The score of each company is represented in a score bar. How does the score bar work?
A: The performances of a given brand are reflected on a score bar that can be shaded from red to orange to yellow to green – the higher the score, the longer and greener the score bar:
Q: How are brands ranked?
A: Every question is answered with a ‘yes’, ‘no’ or ‘?’:
A ‘yes’ or ‘no’ is only given if the brand's website posts concrete evidence that justifies the response. If the information is ambiguous, or not found, then the brand receives a ‘?’ for that question. Every score is explained in a remark and, where possible, is linked to the specific information used to verify the 'yes' or 'no'.
Q: How do the answers to questions lead to scores?
A: Each ‘yes’ gets one point. Each ‘no’ and each ‘?’ gets zero points. After the question list is completed, we add up the number of points (the number of 'yeses') to arrive at the brand's overall score.
Q: Why does Rank a Brand only have ‘yes’, ‘no’ or ‘?’ as only possible answers and not a point scale, e.g. from 0 to 10?
A: The yes-no-?-method is the most robust, clear and transparent method - brands only gain points where there is clear information proving that they meet one of our criteria. The system rewards transparency at the same time as rewarding a strong performance..
VALIDITY OF THE SCORING SYSTEM
Q: Is a set of 10 to 30 questions sufficient to make a proper evaluation of a brand?
A: Of course we can ask brands hundreds of questions about their CSR policy, but a comparison of different rankings showed us that this is not necessary to distinguish between the front-runners and the laggards. Therefore we only assess the key aspects of CSR. And that means our rankings are crisp and clear.
Q: Why does Rank a Brand only use information from companies’ websites and not from other sources such as surveys and independent research reports?
A: Rank a Brand has deliberately chosen to only use information that is published on the websites of brands, and in CSR reports, by the brands themselves. It has a number of thoughtful reasons for this:
1) Rank a Brand represents consumers that want to be able to make responsible choices. Consumers that want to know more about the CSR performances of a particular brand will typically visit the brand’s website first. BUT When companies do not make sustainability information easily accessible, the consumer is sidelined. We want to encourage brands to give this information high visibility, which is why we only look at information from these sources.
2) A brand that is committed to a better world, will be all too happy to tell the world, because this is positive publicity. Brands that only report a little – or not at all – about CSR, will generally not commit to CSR.
3) By only using information from a brand’s website, Rank a Brand does not have to wait for research reports containing data which is already more than six months old. This makes Rank a Brand always up-to-date and any change can be adjusted fast.
4) Brands that communicate about their CSR efforts on their website, will encourage their direct competitors to contribute to a better world.
Q: How can Rank a Brand be sure that the information presented on brand websites is accurate?
A: Where possible we refer to external verification, for example we ask companies to support their claims with independent certifications and memberships of Multi Stakeholder Initiatives (such as FWF, ETI, Made-By, EICC and GOTS). Moreover, we believe that brands would severely risk damaging their image if they provided false information, as social media spreads scandals quicker than ever these days.
Q: Do brands have influence on their rankings?
A: No, Rank a Brand is completely independent.
THE RANKED BRANDS
Q: Why can’t I find certain brands?
A: Our objective is to rank all mainstream brands in all consumer sectors. But there are many brands to rank and it’s a continuous effort to rank and update the ones we already have in the database. We're working hard to extend into more sectors. So far we have ranked more than 800 brands in 13 sectors: Electronics, Fashion, Telecom, Travel, Media, Websites, Supermarkets, Automotive, Beer, Chocolate, Coffee & Tea and Tropical Fruit. Feel free to request a brand of your choice and we’ll rank it as soon as we can!
Q: Why rank brands and not products or corporations?
A: Brands represent all products that are sold under that name. Our rankings are applicable to every product that brands produce. The reputation of a brand is generally more important to a company than the reputation of single products. Therefore, ranking brands is more effective. We refrain from ranking corporations (e.g. Unilever or Proctor and Gamble) because consumers are not aware of what brands, let alone which products, a given corporation is associated with.
Q: Does Rank a Brand make a profit?
A: No, Rank a Brand is a non-profit foundation.
Q: Is Rank a Brand sponsored by brands?
A: No. Rank a Brand does not accept unallocated support from owners of brands that are ranked on our website. However, we do sell products and services, as desribed on our 'Business Services' page. These products and services are also open to the ranked brands.
A: We currently work with several volunteers, who contribute the biggest chunck of value to our website. We also work with a grant from the Dutch subsidy arrangement SBOS. In the past we had support from NCDO, Hivos and Oxfam Novib. A smaller part of our income comes from our supporters, and a small part is generated by business services.
Do you have more questions, ideas, opinions? We’d love to hear from you! You can find our contact information here.