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Brand reputation is defined as how others view your particular brand. An optimistic brand reputation means consumers trust your business and feel good about purchasing your goods or services. However, an unfavourable brand reputation will cause consumers to be hesitant about your business and be reluctant to buy your products or services. Having a favourable reputation is critical for the success of your brand. If your reputation is unsavoury in a competitive field, you will begin to lose business to competitors.
Building a robust brand reputation is essential for businesses regardless of the size or how well established they are in the market. Large, established companies will want to maintain or protect their reputation. For small businesses that are still growing, brand reputation can be a vehicle to help them become more established in the market. In this article, I will describe how to set and protect your brand's reputation.
Creating a Solid Brand Reputation
If you are a new business starting with a blank canvas, you are in an exciting place. You get to craft exactly what you'd like your brand reputation to be. This process is called branding. Branding can be broken down into five pillars:
Your purpose is your reason for being. The integrity of being a purpose-driven company comes from your commitment to stay true to your core. Every decision you make is in light of your purpose and your promise. Every experience your audience has with you should reflect your purpose in some way.
Your purpose can be a magnet for the types of people and personalities you’re looking to hire, which will heavily play into your brand's reputation.
Perception is a pillar that is owned by your audience. Individuals outside of your business interpret your brand based on information gathered through messaging, design, online reviews, advertising, first-hand experiences with your brand and your word-of-mouth reputation. Your perception is what your audience thinks and feels when they interact with you. The goal is to help shape and leverage that perception by creating first-hand moments that lead to positive associations once you’re gone. Going deeper, custom research and reviews shouldn’t stop with your external audience. Taking your internal temperature through employee surveys can be an invaluable way to understand if your external brand and internal culture are at odds with each other. Misalignment between the two can be abysmal when it comes to employee-customer interactions, as well as employee retention rates.
Your brand's personality is its culture and behaviour. When deciding the personality, you'd like your brand to take on, consider its point of view, mood, tone of voice, vocabulary, and verbiage.
Your brand's position defines who you are trying to appeal to and why. This is where strategy comes in. Who are you currently attracting? Is this different than who you’d like to draw? What category is your brand competing in? Where do you stand in the marketplace? To align your positioning, clarify the long-term vision for your company. Position is as much about growth as it is about determining your limits. Your brand has to be realistic about what it offers your audience today while working toward future business evolutions in tandem.
Promotion is about where your audience can find you. Brand promotion is the marketing communication strategy to inform, persuade, convince, and influence the decision-making process of an ideal clientele. It is done to promote brand awareness to create consumer’s interest. Brand promotion seeks to build loyalty by making your audience's hearts swoon so that your product or service becomes the go-to solution or recommendation every time.
These are the foundation of your brand and the elements that inform every aspect of your business. You have the power to shape your brand's reputation using the five pillars to make it the highest-performing asset your company owns. To achieve the most actionable insights, do a thorough analysis of your audience, industry, market and your own internal culture before establishing your values. This all can feel intimidating, but there are so many resources for you. If you need assistance on setting your brand reach out, let's talk.
Practical Brand Reputation Management Strategies
Once you've established a reputation, the focus becomes maintaining it. There are some key initiatives that are integral to an effective brand reputation management strategy.
Search Engine Optimization
Robust SEO strategies put you at the top of search engine results, where customers are searching for resources and solutions to timely problems. If you are not present where consumers are searching, you will be left behind by competitors. In brand reputation management, SEO leverages strategic keywords and valuable content that drives traffic to your website and grows sales. It also ensures that when someone looks you up, they find what you'd like them to.
A beautiful website with accessible features and an enjoyable user experience can improve your brand reputation management efforts. Focusing on customers and making it simple for them to find the information they need will improve brand loyalty and reduce site abandonment. A sophisticated website will also position you as a professional rather than an amateur. For consultation on how you can improve your online presence by improving your website's design, reach out.
A company blog, contributed articles and industry research reports are examples of content marketing’s role in brand reputation management. Producing lead-generating content across an array of channels raises awareness about your brand and what you are selling. By positioning your company as an informative industry source on topics your audience is interested in, you will gain more website visitors and potential customers.
It is becoming more and more apparent that social media is an integral part of brand reputation management. Social media is a great way to make your business accessible, personable and focused on the customer. Having a professional social media presence will boost the authority of your brand and raise awareness. The key platforms to think about in 2021 are Instagram, Facebook, TikTok, Pinterest, LinkedIn, and Clubhouse. To improve the look of your social media, peruse the resources I have on my shop.
A strategic PR program positions you as an authority in your field. Getting into major newspapers, business publications, blogs, and lead-generating trade outlets are critical to successful brand reputation management. PR can improve brand perception, manage negative sentiment, inform customer opinion and increase your web presence. A good PR team can also secure high-profile speaking engagements and award opportunities. PR increases your social proof and makes it easier for your audience to trust your business.
These practical strategies will ensure your brand reputation is spotless if you are intentional about it. It can feel like a lot, but there are professionals in each of these fields who can help you manage the pieces of your brand. As long as you're clear about the cohesive vision that you'd like your overall brand to move towards, getting support is the easy part. If you are starting, time is your most valuable resource. Do your research, get organized, and build your brand yourself until you can begin building a team around your business.
How (Not) to Ruin Your Brand's Reputation
We are now in the rapid-fire round. Once all of your strategies and systems are in place, your mindset starts to circle around not fumbling what you've built. Here are my quickest tips on how not to ruin your brand's reputation.
Play the long game and take the high road.
Proceed with caution and do your research before posting about contentious issues.
Lead with love and respect for people groups and cultures.
Sometimes silence is better.
Be slow to speak and quick to listen.
Just give the refund. It’s seldom worth it.
Respond to kind and curious comments and messages. This builds community. You’re not coming off as marvellous or exclusive by neglecting your audience. People who don’t believe that you will acknowledge them are less likely to engage.
Check your emotions and reassess your goals. Act from a place of rationality rather than from a place of feelings.
Never match people’s negative energy. Maintain a calm demeanour. Don’t allow an angry customer to take you to an unsavoury emotional point. Don’t absorb their energy.
When faced with criticism, address the pain point and then be solution-driven. Honour them in the moment and acknowledge the experience they’ve had.
Don’t let pride drive.
Ultimately, brand reputation is about clearly and kindly communicating your message. If you found this article to be helpful, share it with another business owner. If you have any questions, send us a message on one of our social media channels, all linked at the very bottom of this page.