How to Build a Positive Corporate Brand Reputation
Making a Name for Your Organization
We see branding all around us, every day – online, on TV, in print media, and on billboards. We probably filter out most of it, but some intrigues us enough that we want to find out more. We might even end up as customers.
But, what is it that attracts us to those brands? Is it the functionality of their products? Their innovative and attractive designs? How they make us feel about ourselves? Or, is it the way that they always deliver on what they promise?
One major factor in the way that we respond to a brand is its reputation – the widespread beliefs and opinions that the public holds about it.
You may be wondering how, as a manager or team member, you can contribute to building your brand's reputation. But research shows that everyone within an organization has the power to affect it.
In this article, we look at what is meant by brand reputation, and explore six ways that you can impact it positively.
What Is Brand Reputation?
Brand reputation is how your customers, stakeholders and employees perceive your corporate actions. For instance, the contribution your organization makes to the community, the environment, and the health and well-being of the public.
It differs from brand identity, which refers to the qualities that your organization's products and services are known for. For instance, quality, luxury, value for money, and so on.
Nonetheless, a brand's identity has an important part to play in building its reputation. When your brand has a positive identity that's clear, coherent and relevant to your customers, they'll likely start to form an emotional bond with it. They might exclude other brands in favor of it. And they'll give "rave reviews" of it to anyone who'll listen.
If you want to learn more about increasing customer loyalty to your brand, see our article, The Brand Pyramid.
Why Does Reputation Matter?
Reputation can mean the difference between the success and failure of your brand.
People will likely be far more willing to engage with your organization if your brand has a good reputation. There's a better chance that they'll recommend you to others, and they'll feel good about buying products and services from you. A positive reputation is good for your bottom line!
On the other hand, a bad reputation may cause customers to avoid you. They may even actively dislike your brand. You might start to see negative news stories about your organization in the press or online. And people will be less motivated to work hard for you, or to work for you at all. Investment opportunities and sales may begin to dry up.
How Do You Build a Positive Brand Reputation?
Building a brand's reputation isn't a quick job, and there's no "one size fits all" approach. No matter what your role, though, you can play a part in building your brand's reputation. Here are six ways to do it:
1. Understand Your Brand
First, learn as much as you can about your own brand. After all, how will you be able to talk about it positively, if you don't know anything about it?
Find out what your brand stands for. What are its values? What's its history? Who are its customers? What are its main competitors? Learn about your brand's products and their unique selling points, its policies and goals, and its vision and values.
This will enable you to discuss the brand with authority, enthusiasm and confidence. Your arguments will likely be more convincing and genuine, and people will more likely engage with, and trust in, your brand as a result.
2. Keep Your Promises
Integrity and transparency are crucial when you're dealing with clients, colleagues and other stakeholders. Particularly if you want to have a reputation that's built on trustworthiness, honesty and reliability.
So, keep your promises! Don't offer what you know you can't deliver. And, if you make a mistake, own up to it and take steps to solve any problems that it creates.
Consider, for example, the reputation of Volkswagen before and after the 2015 emissions testing scandal. Trust in the company fell dramatically, and its reputation took a nosedive – as did its profits.
There may be things that you can't talk about freely with customers or colleagues. For example, commercial secrets or new product developments that haven't yet been released. Use your judgment here. If you're still unsure, check with your manager about what you can and can't share.
3. Be Consistent
Consistency is key to a positive customer experience. It's the bedrock of a good reputation. People need to know that when they do business with you, their expectations will be fulfilled.
Burger giant McDonald's, for example, prides itself on delivering a consistent experience to customers whether they're visiting a branch in California or in Massachusetts.
Achieve consistency by encouraging your people to act and behave according to the values that represent your brand. This will help you to turn potentially negative or unbranded customer experiences into positive, brand-consistent ones.
Setting up some clear rules and processes to follow can help here. For example, you could draw up some quality assurance guidelines that govern your manufacturing process. This will ensure that all of your products are finished to the same standard. If you stick to these guidelines, you'll soon get a reputation for quality. And customers will know that they can rely on you to meet their expectations.
Make sure that your team members understand the key visual elements of your brand, too. For instance, its "voice," brand colors, typeface, and so on. Ensure that they use these in all branded communications – from big projects like marketing campaigns to smaller details, such as email signatures.
This will make your brand look professional and will allow your customers to recognize it instantly.
4. Enhance the Customer Experience
Enhance your customers' experience of your brand wherever you can. It might not be immediately obvious how you can do this, particularly if you don't work in a customer-facing role. But, anything that reinforces your brand's identity will help to strengthen its reputation.
If you work in the finance department, for instance, it could be as simple as processing orders and invoices in a timely manner, and notifying customers once you have done so.
Or, if you work in a factory, you could review your production process to find out whether anything could be done to make your quality standards better, or to reduce your turnaround times. Improvements like these will likely have a positive "knock-on effect" for your customers.
5. Be a Good Corporate Citizen
Brands that demonstrate good corporate responsibility and ethics – for example, trading fairly, limiting their impact on the environment, and upholding human rights – often have positive reputations.
Also, an increasing number of customers now expect brands – particularly large, global corporations – to demonstrate responsibility by "doing good."
Look for ways to enhance the ethical standing of your organization. This might sound like a "big ask," but it could be something as simple as encouraging your team to recycle waste like plastics, reducing unnecessary printing, or setting up a partnership with a local charity.
Programs like these boost your brand's credentials. They also allow you to make a positive contribution to the community that you serve, and enhance staff motivation and retention.
6. Manage Negative Feedback Effectively
Brand reputations are always vulnerable to attack, and negative feedback has the potential to knock yours clean off course, particularly if it's not dealt with correctly. In fact, the way that you respond can be the difference between allowing it to damage your brand, and making it stronger.
Remember to respond quickly, using the same communications channel that you received the message through. Thank the person who's complaining for his or her feedback. And, above all, address him as an individual. Demonstrate that you're genuinely interested in resolving the problem, and take practical steps to do so. If you can do this, you'll likely be able to satisfy his complaint and restore his trust in your brand.
Successful brand reputations can take years to build, but one false move and all that hard work can disappear, sometimes overnight.
Your brand reputation is based on how your organization's corporate actions are viewed by customers, competitors and employees, so it's essential that everyone in your organization plays their part.
A good reputation is essential if you want to attract customers and keep them coming back. It can also boost your competitiveness, reduce staff turnover, and increase profits.
There are six key strategies that you can use to boost your brand's reputation:
- Understand your brand.
- Keep your promises.
- Behave consistently.
- Enhance the customer experience.
- Be a good corporate citizen.
- Manage negative feedback.