LONDON—Corporate reputation contributes to investor confidence to the tune of nearly £620 billion of shareholder value across the FTSE 350—but its impact is down from last year, according to the latest Reputation Dividend report, which found that the contribution of reputation accounts for 28 percent of gross market capitalisation—8 percent points lower than the start of 2014.

According to Simon Cole, founder of Reputation Dividend, “Having achieved considerable success in maintaining confidence during the global economic downturn through a growing focus on reputations, there are signs that some companies have taken their eyes off the ball as ‘recovery’ sets in.” As a result, the FTSE350 as a whole slipped, and ended the year 2% below where it had started with a loss of £55 billion of shareholder value.

Unilever and Diageo top the table of the most economically powerful corporate reputations for the second year running, but their leadership is being challenged by a number of rising stars. Fashion retailer Next rose 21 places to take the number three position, while RB (Reckitt Benckiser) jumped 19 places to number seven.

The study also places HSBC in the top ten but Cole acknowledges that “it remains to be seen just how much HSBC’s undoubted success in 2014 will be set back by the scandal surrounding the company’s Swiss operation, governance and customer’s tax management practices.”

Rounding out the top 10 are GlaxoSmithKline, Johnson Matthey, EasyJet, Shell and Sky.

Says reputation expert and director Sandra Macleod, “In a year marked by mixed macroeconomic signals, intangibles such as corporate reputation continue to underpin market confidence, and with that, market capitalisations. Communications leaders are achieving considerable success but they need to prioritise their specific value-generating components if they are going to continue to live up to expectations and deliver the reputation returns they have in the past.

“With recent surges in share price performance, it could be all too easy to lose strategic focus, and with that, risk leaving shareholder money on the table.”