It’s a very good week for Apple. Not only did its share price rally above $500 for the first time, it also pushed Google into second place in the 2012 Harris Poll RQ Study of corporate reputation.

The 13th annual RQ Study found that people’s perception of Apple is positively affected by its status as a hybrid technology/consumer product/retail company. Additionally, customers tend to value strong leadership and technological innovation, areas Apple excels in.

An RQ score of 80 or above signifies a company with an excellent reputation. Apple came in with a score of 85.62, the highest RQ score ever achieved by any company in the 13 years of the RQ study, and one that reflects Apple continual improvement since 2000.

The three other companies in the Harris Poll RQ top five are Coca-Cola, – which moves up four from last year’s placement – and Kraft Foods. They replace Johnson & Johnson, 3M and Berkshire Hathaway in the list.

Only four corporations experienced significant positive year-over-year change: Apple, BP, General Motors and Toyota. At the other end of the spectrum, five financial institutions were among those with the most significant declines, including Berkshire Hathaway, which had been at the top as recently as 2010.

RQ measures six dimensions that it has determined comprise reputation and influence consumer behavior. Apple ranked top in four of them: financial performance, products & service, vision & leadership, and workplace environment. Of the remaining two, received the best marks for emotional appeal, and Whole Foods for social responsibility.

“We are seeing the emergence of a group of companies that garner reputation equity by being positively associated with multiple industries,” said Robert Fronk, executive vice president and Global Corporate Reputation practice lead for Harris Interactive. “Companies like Apple, Google, and combine innovation and leadership across multiple business areas, giving them true competitive advantage.”

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Download the 2012 Harris Poll RQ Summary Report here [PDF]

Photo of Apple Store, Upper West Side in New York, used with permission of Apple