NEW YORK, NY — As the brand equity of most burger joints remains flat, it looks as though consumer opinions on non-burger restaurants is increasing and improving, according to the 2011 Harris Poll EquiTrend study.

Although Subway is the 2011 Quick Serve Restaurant Brand of the Year, followed by Dairy Queen, Wendy’s and McDonald’s, the brands whose brand equity increased the most over last year include Domino’s Pizza, KFC restaurants and Taco Bell. Domino’s has created an entire ad campaign to its admitted shortcomings and featuring what they’re doing to improve their reputation. This strategy appears to be making an impact on consumers.

“Domino’s improvement shows the impact of transparency on consumer brand perception,” said Jeni Lee Chapman, executive vice president of brand and communication consulting at Harris Interactive. “Consumers are more forgiving with companies that take responsibility and are forthcoming about their efforts to improve.”

Panera Bread is the 2011 Casual Dining Brand of the Year followed by three Italian food restaurants — Carrabba’s, Olive Garden and Maggiano’s Little Italy.

The EquiTrend study evaluates measures including equity, consumer connection, commitment, brand behavior, brand advocacy and trust. Equity is the keystone to the program. This year’s Harris Poll EquiTrend study was conducted online among 25,099 US consumers aged 15 and over between Jan. 11 and 27. A total of 1,273 brands were rated in 53 separate categories. Each respondent was asked to rate a total of 60 randomly selected brands.

Each brand received approximately 1,000 ratings. Data were weighted to be representative of the entire US population of consumers ages 15 and over on the basis of age sex, education, race/ethnicity, region, and income, and data from respondents ages 18 and over were also weighted for their propensity to be online.