What do Rolex, Lego and Hallmark have in common? According to 2017 data from the Reputation Industry, they’re three of the five most reputable companies in America. Their placement is a combination of nostalgia, corporate responsibility and a willingness to focus on reputation strength.
Today’s online shoppers have a considerable hold on brands. From small and medium-sized businesses to large corporations, the power of social media and online review sites has meant a distinct shift in power to consumers when it comes to brand reputations. Customers are now powerful enough to make or break companies via their online reputation.
Brands are increasingly waking up to this new reality and doubling down on reputation monitoring and management as an essential component of their growth strategy. Failure to engage in reputation management can be disastrous for brands, regardless of their business’ size. The ability to successfully build a strong brand reputation comes down to a number of factors:
How open your business is with consumers and vendors, both with good news and bad?
How does your business give back to the community and contribute to making the world a better place, even if just in a small way?
Can consumers and business partners trust your company, both in the quality of products/services you offer and your brand communications?
Does your company’s branding make the public feel better/want to do better/think better of your business?
Staff Treatment And Happiness
Are you treating your staff with respect and fairness, or does your company have a public facade and an entirely different persona when it comes to staff treatment?
Massive PR is an online public relations company with a concentration on reputation management for national and international brands. Massive’s president, Nadia Munno, weighed in on the modern-day impact it can have on brands, especially retailers:
91% of searches don’t go beyond Page 1 of search engine results, and Google is your new business card — that’s something we tell all of our clients, and it continues to be humbling how brands, small and large, still let this fall by the waist-side. Being proactive is now a necessity, and if you’re being reactive, the reputation damage has already been done — catch up isn’t a game you want really want to play.”
Brands invest so much time, money and resources to tell a beautiful narrative, visually and contextually, but if their customers see even one negative result, massive revenue opportunity is lost — and the e-commerce implications are quantifiably destructive.”
Knowing how to build a strong corporate reputation is essential, but so, too, is managing your brand reputation on a consistent basis. The impact on your brand can be severe if you don’t react quickly and efficiently to negative public commentary. To address that negativity, Munno offered a few solutions:
Address Negative Commentary Immediately In A Polite Manner
This isn’t the time to snap back at public comments or let your temper get the better of you. Letting consumers know they have been heard and updating them on your efforts to address their concerns is critical — you need to acknowledge them on all channels (social, external review sites, e-mail, etc.). For those particularly complex scenarios, politely isolate them and encourage a direct message or contact.
Understand Reasoning Behind Negative Commentary And Attention
Retailers that make the effort to understand the reasoning behind negative feedback have a much better chance of repairing the damage. Is your company’s negative attention a result of a poor shipping experience? Was a consumer made to feel like they weren’t being heard and your company needs to adjust customer service practices or processes? When you understand why negative reactions happened, you are in a better position to develop long-term fixes to avoid such events in the future — proactively investigate and address.
Search engine optimization is crucial if your company wants to ensure the top rank of search engine results are filled with positive results rather than negative. A concerted effort to reduce the prominence of negative feedback regarding your company is a must.
Regardless of whether your business has ever received negative online attention, ongoing brand reputation monitoring is imperative. Failure to monitor social networks and review sites could mean you not only miss the opportunity to immediately engage with negativity, but you also miss the opportunity to connect with those posting positive feedback about your brand — if the former occurs, it can quickly spiral out of control. It is also important to make sure your brand is safe from online threats, with cybersecurity such as FraudWatch International which helps protect against malware, phishing and attacks on your brand identity.
Businesses that understand the shift in consumer power are better positioned to maximize their brand reputation opportunities. A Maya Angelou quote is highly relevant: “I did then what I knew best; when I knew better, I did better.”
Well said, Ms. Angelou.
Retailers and brands need to commit to doing better, knowing their reputation is in the hands of a socially empowered public — one that is exponentially growing.