Cue, Taylor Swift. Her latest album, aptly titled Reputation, sold 2 million copies worldwide and was an effort to change her reputation, breaking away from how she was viewed by the public; it was a huge success. In the world that we live in, reputation is everything. With the integration of the Internet and social media in our daily lives, it’s become very easy for people to voice their opinions and have their thoughts broadcasted across the globe. With the press of a button, your brand can make sensational headlines—in a good way and a bad way. Now more than ever, reputation management is critical for brand success.
What Reputation Management Entails
Reputation management is a part of public relations, as it helps to reinforce the image of your brand. More so, when managed correctly, your reputation can give your brand a competitive edge in the market, which plays a critical role in fulfilling business objectives. Good reputation management goes beyond the surface level and includes many strategic tactics to help influence your brand. Some of the details involved in reputation management include:
- Effectively improving search engine optimization (SEO) for your brand.
- Showcasing positive customer feedback and experiences.
- Producing original content to promote brand presence.
- Handling press releases to maintain brand image while increasing awareness.
- Managing brand activity and customer interaction on social media profiles.
- Removing content that is incorrect or slanderous.
Your brand’s reputation requires constant vigilance. If you’re wondering about tools that you can use to engage in monitoring your brand, here are some resources to help you get started:
How It All Works
Possessing a good reputation helps to instill confidence in everyone who interacts with your brand, whether it be employees, customers or investors. When people have faith in your brand and become advocates for it, it can drive your brand forward, increasing profit margin. On the other hand, a bad reputation can dramatically affect your brand’s image, growth and business performance.
Are you and your team aligned on how to implement your brand’s image and respond in your brand’s voice? Do you do drills on how to react to various scenarios your brand may find itself in? Reputation management is complex and involves a deep auditing of your brand’s position in the market. It begins with sifting through all internet and media-related channels and documenting how your brand appears to the public, including how it is mentioned and tagged in articles, forums and across digital platforms. With consideration for industry and business objectives, your brand is then evaluated and analyzed. Depending on the findings, your reputation management team will develop a strategy to optimize your brand position while engaging in media monitoring. When your brand is mentioned in any instance, your reputation management team will know and respond accordingly.
One of a brand’s worst nightmares is bad publicity. When your brand suffers negative backlash, reputation management can help to mitigate the extent of damage and reshape your brand image. The process of reputation management under negative scrutiny includes: repairing the damage by offering a solution to your error, rebuilding trust by listening to critiques and addressing concerns and, finally, recuperating your brand image by highlighting positive feedback and diminishing negative ones.
Dealing with a Crisis
As brands grow and expand, there is bound to be unexpected issues along the way. Imagine hearing news that your famous brand ambassador just got arrested or that your company was slapped with a sexual assault lawsuit. During these times, it’s important that your brand has the support and expertise that it needs to deal with these crises. Taco Bell and BP are two great examples of brands that needed reputation management in light of bad news. Unfortunately, only one of these brands succeeded in repairing its reputation fully. Spoiler: It was Taco Bell.
For the notable fast-food giant, all it took was one unfounded lawsuit in 2011, for its reputation to be questioned. The lawsuit claimed that Taco Bell had misled its consumers by falsely advertising its beef as being real, when it was only 36% USDA-inspected beef. The world was understandably shocked at this accusation, and so was Taco Bell. The brand’s CEO at the time, Greg Creed, took action immediately and said, “I have total faith and confidence in the food that we sell, and I know what’s in our recipes, and I know we’re right, I know they’re wrong, and, therefore, I am going to defend the reputation of this brand.” This strong, resilient statement resonated with consumers. Taco Bell was very quick to respond to the lawsuit, fighting back with transparent messages to consumers about the ingredients used in its beef. It utilized great reputation management tactics such as interviewing its employees about the beef that they use and publicizing the employee responses to consumers via a TV campaign. They also showed their gratefulness to the fans that stuck by them by giving away 10 million free tacos. By the end, the lawsuit was withdrawn and Taco Bell’s efforts to retain its reputation was successful as consumers dismissed the false claims and continued to support the brand.
Now, let’s talk about BP. As an oil and gas company, it sought to establish itself as being environmentally responsible by spending on advertisements, which promoted a conscientious brand image. These ads worked…until the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill stained its reputation. BP’s oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico not only blew up, killing 11 of its crew, but it also spilled 4.9 million barrels of oil into the ocean—a disaster that is considered the largest marine oil spill in the world. Controversial statements from its CEO and a slow response to global criticism tarnished the brand even further. Many felt like BP did not own up to its responsibilities and faults when interviews were conducted. According to a HuffPost/YouGov poll from 2013, 43 percent of Americans held unfavorable views of BP. The brand failed to manage its reputation after a devastating debacle and is still trying to regain the height of what its profit margin used to be, to this day.
Creating Value Through a Reputable Brand
Your brand’s reputation is crucial, and requires constant monitoring. According to a survey from BrightLocal in 2017, 97% of consumers searched for local businesses online. Imagine closing a business deal or attracting new clients; these opportunities are directly linked to brand reputation. Everything that you do or say impacts your reputation. Online reputation management is particularly critical these days as your brand interacts with customers on websites, forums and social media platforms. By monitoring negative reviews or articles and responding in a meaningful, positive manner, your brand will be able to maintain a good reputation and establish support from customers. A good reputation can open up many opportunities to your brand, from collaborations to investments. Our team at Mellonaid never underestimates the power of reputation, and we continually strive to remind our clients of the opportunities that can be derived from proper reputation management.