Part 1 - Brand Reputation

What is Brand Reputation?

Brand reputation is the knowledge, or feedback others have about the brand. The brand can be both individual or company. A startup has little or no brand recognition as they are new-born without much public knowledge, while an MNC with global operations has a more prominent brand reputation. Broadly, there are two types of brand reputation - favorable and unfavorable. A favorable brand reputation implies consumers’ trust in the company with a positive brand recall, while an unfavorable brand reputation can cause distrust in the minds of the consumers that could affect sales and goodwill of the company.

influences of social media

With the growth of social media, brands have a harder time handling their brand reputation. Traditionally, an offline public relations team takes care of reputation and all public communication as there were no new methods of communication. This situation quickly changed with the rapid growth of technology and social media. Over the years, several brands have fallen prey to the wrath of social media with consumers and public pointing out the gaps and lack of sensitivity towards current scenarios and customers. An online reputation management has become an integral part of every company’s agenda that will help salvage reputation at the time of crisis.

Any brand can become a victim of a bad online debate or be misinterpreted for its brand positioning. It is for this purpose; every brand should have an online reputation management team that would contain the damage by taking control over the conversation. One of the biggest reasons for brands to suffer an online brand reputation problem is the response time. The longer the response time, the bigger the situation could get and move out of hands. A brand has to be quick on its feet for redressal, and any delay could cause irreparable damage to the brand reputation.

Branding is a crucial part of the marketing activities.While marketing is about promoting what the company does, branding is inclined towards the brand’s soul, the fundamental ideology behind their existence. It is that part of the company that could be influenced by external factors such as consumer perception, influence, etc. Every brand has its reputation thus marking their position in the market.

Two aspects determine brand reputation

Brand influence is a result of reputation. Brands who have positive reputation have a higher influence due to several factors. Influence is external and cannot be controlled by the brand. Brand influence is what consumers think and recognize the brand with. Ideally, two aspects determine brand influence - personal experiences, and word-of-mouth experiences. According to a recent study, it is said that 84% of the people trust “word-of-mouth” recommendations from friends and family. Although it is impossible to control the perceptions of consumers, brands can invest in areas that affect or influence brand reputation.

The four key areas

That primarily fall under the jurisdiction of brands that help create a positive brand reputation are

1. Appearance

How the brand is presented to the public. This includes every visual aspect of the company including physical store appearance, quality of graphics used, website look and feel, marketing materials and much more. All of these components add to the visual appeal that consumers first come in contact with even before purchase.

2. Words are written or spoken

As social media emerged as an active player in marketing and communication, brands must pay closer attention to their contextual representation. Any form of communication should have a conscious and politically correct message and meaning to it. If a company misrepresents facts or makes an incorrect statement, the repercussions could be catastrophic.

3. Tone of brand voice

Setting the tonality for a brand is imperative. It is this integral component of a marketing activity that showcases what the brand represents. For example, a brand can have a strong, commanding voice if their industry and audience are researched to appreciate it. However, strong cannot be mistaken for obnoxious and overpowering, and this mistake could cost the reputation. Hence, it is advised that brands find a tone to their voice that fits their objective and connects with the audience.

4. Brand actions

Actions speak louder than words. Brand should always focus on two things - the quality of the product/service, and after-sales customer service. If a brand is unable to sustain their output quality, the primary reason for their existence, it is safe to say that the reputation will be severely affected.

Continue reading in part 2