This post was most recently updated on April 7, 2021
Brand reputation is one of the most crucial elements of success for any company or organization. In this post, you will learn the importance of brand recognition among consumers and company stakeholders, strategies on improving brand reputation, and some examples of not-so-great brand reputation.
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Brand Reputation, Defined
Brand reputation refers to how others view a particular brand (whether for an individual or a company). A favorable brand reputation means consumers trust your company and feel good about purchasing your goods or services. However, an unfavorable brand reputation will cause consumers to distrust your company and be hesitant about buying your products or services.
The Undeniable Importance of Brand Reputation
Brand reputation is critical in the success and outlook of a brand. If reputation is put into jeopardy in a competitive field, you may lose business to business competitors.
Brand reputation is essential for businesses regardless of the size or how well established they are in the market. Building a reputation among your stakeholders can take a lot of time and effort. Large, established businesses will want to maintain or protect their reputation. For small businesses that are still growing, building brand reputation will help them become more established in a market.
Effects of Great Branding Reputation
There are so many ways brands can reap the rewards of an excellent brand reputation:
Improve organization morale
Improve public relations
Increase follow-up purchases
Build a social media following
Increase website traffic
The level of reputation a brand brings has far-reaching implications for a business, and ultimately, they are tied into an organization’s performance, measured in their bottom line.
Reputation & Brand Stakeholders:
You may not think it, but brand reputation is important to all stakeholders – not just your customers. The truth is, brand reputation has far-reaching effects that affect every stakeholder in an organization. Here’s how brand reputation affects each type of stakeholder.
What do consumers think when they associate with your brand? Revenue and reputation are tied together, and as the main source of revenue, what consumers think of your brand matters. A great brand reputation among consumers is essential for the financial longevity of your business.
What do employees think about a company? While employees are an extension of brand perception, their thoughts about the brand can affect their work satisfaction and productivity.
Whether it’s a vendor, association, partnership, or even a blogger or influencer, building a reputation with business partners has its benefits. The partner with other organizations, a positive reputation makes it easier to partner with other businesses, which improves an organization’s performance.
Board of Directors
Board members know when the reputation of a brand suffers, so does company performance. The Board of directors will take a top-down approach to manage a brand to maintain reputation – everything from hiring a CEO to developing a governance structure for the organization.
Reputation can play a massive role in the decision-making for investors to invest in a company. Building reputation can go a long way in improving investor relations.
How to Improve Brand Reputation
Branding is such a powerful tool for businesses, and because of this, a brand should never stop improving its reputation among stakeholders. These days, brands need to have a unified presence both online and offline to succeed in business.
How can companies and organizations improve their brand reputation? Here are a few ideas to consider.
Understand Your Customer
Do some consumer research about what they think of your brand. Consider creating or updating buyer personas. Buyer personas are semi-fictional representations of your ideal customers based on data and research from your customer base. Knowing your personas will help you have a clearer understanding of their preferences and pain points, which can help build a positive brand reputation.
Run Marketing Campaigns
Whether you’re rebranding, launching a new brand, or looking to reinforce your company’s values, marketing, particularly online, is an effective way to get your message across. With online marketing channels like social advertising, Google ads, and content marketing, it’s easier than ever to target your market.
Engage in Social Responsibility
Launching a social responsibility campaign will help improve reputation. Giving back to communities and supporting social causes is an excellent way for a company to build its reputation among consumers. Consider finding a charity or organization to support a cause that aligns with your consumer base.
Monitor Your Brand Regularly
Consider monitoring your brand online to respond to any issues as quickly as possible. Use tools to monitor your brand. Social listening tools will help monitor negative comments about your brand on social media. Google Alerts is a tool that allows you to track news mentions within Google search results.
Provide Excellent Customer Service
Customer service is the perfect opportunity to right the ship by turning a negative experience into a positive one. Having a well-trained customer support team that reflects your company’s core values will help you stand out from competitors.
Be Proactive for Negative Reviews
In the digital age, many consumers use social media sites, apps, and websites to research the best product or service that allows customers to review a company. Negative reviews may occur, and when they do, businesses need to address them head-on in a positive light. Respond to negative online reviews quickly and promptly.
For businesses struggling to connect with customers, consider a rebrand. Instead of losing credibility with your old brand, an updated aesthetic and internal alignment of company values can help you rebuild your brand reputation.
Brand Reputation Mistakes (with Examples)
While companies used to shape their brand reputation with ease using traditional advertising and public relations, it is much harder to keep others from damaging your brand without online reputation management in today’s world.
Thanks to social media’s rise, companies find that one mistake will destroy their brand in seconds. Here are just three examples of brands that took a hit because of social media:
Example 1: Kenneth Cole, Fashion Designer.
Cole tweeted about the 2011 Egyptian riots in an attempt to promote his new line and came under fire for insensitivity:
The tweet was removed, and a lengthy apology was posted on Facebook, but that wasn’t enough to fix Kenneth Cole’s brand reputation. A spoof Twitter account @KennethColePR and a #KennethColeTweeting hashtag forever link the brand to the incident.
Example 2: Domino’s, Pizza Chain.
A group of bored Domino’s employees uploaded to Youtube a series of videos in which they played with food ingredients they claimed were going into meals ordered by customers. The videos went viral, quickly picking up more than one million views, and the employees involved were faced with felony charges. Executives hoped the controversy would die down and did little to communicate what steps Domino’s was taking to rectify the matter over Twitter. That led followers to question whether Domino’s was doing anything, which led to further consumer distrust and a ruined brand reputation.
Example 3: Marvin Austin, UNC Football Player.
Austin tweeted a photo of a receipt from the Cheesecake Factory in Washington, DC, where he had racked up a $143 bill.
When members of the local media questioned why he was in Washington and how he could pay for the trip, UNC officials declined to comment. Their silence spurred an NCAA investigation that uncovered 9 NCAA violations, including evidence of improper benefits being provided by agents, academic fraud, and a first-ever “failure to monitor social media” charge against the University of North Carolina’s athletic department. The controversy led to player suspensions, pink slips for the head coach and associated head coach, a resignation from the athletic director, and a one-year ban on postseason play.
In each instance, the damage could have been minimized if the organizations had practiced proper online reputation management. Instead, each organization allowed damaging content about itself to be posted online and did not move quickly enough to control the conversation and minimize the damage. As a result, each brand reputation mentioned above took a hit. Kenneth Cole’s customers viewed the brand as insensitive; pizza consumers viewed Domino’s as a brand that allowed its employees to violate health codes. High school football players viewed UNC’s football brand as a poorly run program.
Responding to a Brand Public Relations Crisis
When your brand reputation takes a public relations hit, you will want to address the issue. Have a plan outlined to address the issue that is plaguing your brand. While you typically want to address a crisis quickly with stakeholders, coming back from a public relations crisis is a process that takes time, with an end goal of rebuilding reputation. For more, you can read our blog on crisis management.
Take Control of Your Brand Reputation
You should not wait for your company to commit a social media faux pas before engaging in online reputation management. Using social media, message boards, and online review sites, your customers and employees might already be damaging your brand reputation.