The philosopher Socrates said it best, "The way to gain good reputation is to endeavor to be what you desire to appear.”
By his logic, the key to managing a reputation lies in narrowing the gap between what you are and how people perceive you.
If we apply this to digital experience, the clarity, expression and consistency of organization, product and brand will either reinforce or dilute your brand’s reputation.
6 Factors that Affect Brand Reputation
Although reputation connects what a company says about itself with the actual experience that stakeholders have, much of reputation management comes down to delivering a consistent message and shaping the conversation.
The following factors can affect the reputation of your product or brand:
1. A clearly defined purpose and brand narrative
For stakeholders to believe the message, your company needs to be able to clearly convey its corporate story and purpose.
This starts internally, so that your employees, who act as reputation ambassadors, can believe and clearly articulate the company narrative. If your brand’s purpose, mission and vision is lost on your own employees, it’s unlikely to succeed externally across sales, support and online experiences.
A clear, logical narrative also prepares your organization to become a trusted advisor in terms of both thought leadership as well as innovation. Build this authoritative voice through engagement on digital channels that links back to your core messages and reflect how your organization identities itself.
Here is where a strong content marketing and audience engagement strategy really shines.
2. A global reach
Although online is global by nature, the impact of brand message and meaning is interpreted regionally. Your ability to adapt your organization's message to resonate with local audiences, while remaining consistent with the bigger picture, is what creates engagement and builds brand equity.
Because so much of the customer journey takes place online, this extends beyond content marketing and corporate communications to include support and post-sale activities.
Too many organizations focus efforts on localized online marketing experiences only and neglect the post-sale experience. For this post-experience to scale globally, you need to localize content with sensitivity to local context, language and culture.
3. A consistent online identity and brand experience
Multiple touch points build up a reputation and organizational image — pre-sale, post-sale, social engagement — across a multitude of owned and shared platforms and channels.
The marketing, customer service, public relations, sales messages and the overall customer experience that you provide to support these interactions either reinforcess or degrades your reputation.
A solid identity is only as good as the experience that goes with it. Brand and product experience convert into brand equity, advocacy and reputation. This spans pre- and post-sales, with each touchpoint contributing to reputation.
4. A broad stakeholder strategy
You need to engage the broader stakeholder ecosystem within a broader digital and communication strategy framework. Prospects, customers, analysts, reviewers and more all contribute to your organization’s reputation.
For many organizations, the bulk of communication strategy often focuses on prospects — the new sale — which may neglect prominent and important influential stakeholder groups.
And yet according to Nielsen’s Global Trust in Advertising Report, 92 percent of the 28,000 internet respondents surveyed trust recommendations from friends and family above all other forms of advertising. Ranking second and third respectively are consumer opinions posted online and editorial content, such as newspaper articles.
5. Monitoring and improvement
Reputation is built on past actions and what happens today.
Relatively speaking, we are data-rich and can thus measure and connect activities with online sentiment. Monitoring and analyzing brand sentiment and marketplace responses within a feedback loop provides an invaluable opportunity to proactively address how an audience perceives your organization.
Unlike a campaign or one-off activity, reputation involves a continual process of observation and improvement.
6. Crisis communication
We often speak of reputation in terms of crisis, since these moments can result in a dramatic change in the perception of and belief in an organization. However, the overall reputation of your organization, which includes but is not limited to how you handle a crisis, determines how you bounce back from crisis moments.
Don't Leave Reputation Management to Others
Consumers actively spread thoughts about your brand through online channels, preserving their impressions — both good and bad — for posterity. Anyone can access this information (or misinformation).
Organizations cannot afford to allow reputation to be something that just happens. Take charge, proactively manage your brand's reputation.