As human beings, we often worry about two things; who we are and who we are perceived to be.
It is no different with brands and organisations. They have to manage and influence how people see them so that it aligns with how they see themselves or even better.
How your organisation is perceived by your public is key to its performance and brand communication plays a huge role in upholding the brand reputation.
There are three main phases to reputation management:
Building – This is where you start from, the foundation of the brand and the initial stages of moulding your brand image.
Maintaining – this is the crucial part. It involves doing everything it takes to maintain the desired public perception. This is usually much easier than recovery.
Recovering – When a reputation crisis occurs, you have to have strategies in place to recover.
It is important to note that almost all efforts in reputation management are carried out online.
In this era of avid social media usage, it is important to be mindful of people’s beliefs and experiences. This online climate has made managing your reputation as a brand or organisation even more critical. Depending on your brand personality and field of operation, different brands take on different tactics to maintain their image.
However, these are the ways you can maintain your brand reputation in the public eye:
Keep a consistent and firm brand personality.
Just like with a friend or a family member, it would make you uncomfortable If every single time you meet them, they act like a different person. This is the same dynamic that brands and the public have. If you start out as a conservative brand, it would throw many of your supportive publics off if you start to post controversial content.
Stay true to who you are as a brand and when you choose to communicate, be clear and firm and avoid situations where you stand to be corrected. When in error, just like a human being, apologise to your audiences and those affected.
Sticking to who you are creates a sense of safety, understanding and admiration within your supportive audiences and thus maintaining your reputation.
Keep your top reputation ambassadors happy
You might feel the urge to focus way more on your external audiences than your employees and partners. Please DO NOT.
In the effort to maintain your reputation, these are the most important because they can make or break your brand image.
Take for example Forever 21 filed for bankruptcy in 2017 and it didn’t help public perception that the employees turned against the company and it was exposed that none of their labour standards were up to code. In some cases, it is not as severe, however at the end of the day, what your team says about your brand is as credible as it is going to get for the outside world.
Leverage Loyal clients or partners/ Third party endorsement
Another effective way of reputation maintenance is to find ways of having supportive audiences communicate on your behalf.
A great example of this is Rolex. The brand has a whole page dedicated to customers and “rolex” enthusiasts sharing content on their experiences and new purchases. Rolex itself rarely communicates heavily online but the customers, brand ambassadors and others communicate on behalf of the brand. Creating channels for your audiences to communicate on your behalf is a huge step in credibility and transparency thus
Strategic social relevance
Maintaining a good reputation has nothing to do with contributing to ever topic online but as a brand, you are aware of your target audiences, who they are, what matters to them and what does not.
On the other hand, you as a brand are also aware of who you are and what you value.
Aligning yourself with a cause or a trend online should always be in service of one of the two or both. A good example of this would be Nike. They stand for equality in gender and that shows in their ads and any contributions they make on social media. When a scandal in the showbiz world emerges, they don’t engage in any dialogue concerning it because it is not of interest to them or their audiences.
Unless you are a brand whose strategy is to respond to every single comment, dialogue and trend, it is important to know when to say nothing.
On social media, what you feed, grows. So many issues would have been avoided if the brand in question simply said nothing. This is a common tactic with personal brands. Learning to say nothing or to give selective attention is the key to avoiding any unnecessary damage to your brand and thus maintaining your reputation.