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Everything you do, from designing a logo to choosing words for your website copy, affects how people feel about your products and view your brand. Today’s consumers have more ways to contact your business—both favorably and unfavorably—than ever before, so building a strong brand is crucial to the success of any enterprise, big or small.

Customers who trust your business and are inclined to buy from you are those who have a positive brand reputation, both online and offline. Understanding that you don’t have to wait for people to develop their own ideas about your company is essential to developing a successful brand reputation strategy.

Instead, by building your brand’s experiences around your target customers’ needs, wants, values, and opinions, you can help shape how they perceive your company.

In this article, we’ll dive further into why brand reputation matters, the benefits of having a solid strategy in place, and tips for building and maintaining it.

What is brand reputation?

Brand reputation is the perception that customers, employees, partners, and others have of a brand. The stronger the reputation is, the more that people will trust and advocate for the brand.

This perception can be shaped by both direct and indirect experiences, and can also be influenced by factors outside the user experience. For example, people’s perception of a brand can be impacted by things like the company’s activism and philanthropy, internal employee policies, as well as its partners’ own brand reputations. Consumers can also be influenced by the buying behavior of their friends and family, or other influential people.

Brand reputation can change over time, on both an individual and societal scale. This is why it’s so important for companies to closely monitor and manage it.

The benefits of a strong brand reputation strategy

Take it from the world’s most successful brands and individuals: building a strong brand takes a lot of work. Having a brand reputation strategy will not only help you on your goal of achieving your ideal consumer and employer perception, but it will also become incredibly handy when your brand inevitably runs up against a crisis. If that wasn’t enough, take a look at some of the additional benefits of having a strong brand reputation strategy for your business.

  • Quickens your response to competition

Having a brand marketing strategy allows you to best identify which marketing or sales levers to pull when your company is dealing with a competitive threat. For example, if another corporate bakery delivery service opens up across town, touting lower prices, your brand reputation strategy will help guide your decisions. You’ll know if it’s a better idea to prioritize a new marketing campaign that focuses on selling your existing client base on your homegrown spirit, or if it’s better to narrow in on acquiring new customers in an unserviced area.

  • Stabilizes your employee growth

Thinking about how you want your operation to grow can help you create and sustain the internal company culture that you’ll need to reflect outward. If you articulate how you want your brand to be perceived, it’s easier to hire for cultural fit/identify good hires. People look for jobs where they feel fulfilled and are able to make a meaningful contribution to something they believe in. Companies with a clear brand identity and a well-founded brand reputation are the ones that will offer these kinds of opportunities to prospective employees.

With a great reputation both inside and outside, a company will have a more devoted workforce and lower levels of turnover and turmoil.

Creates more loyal customers

For many companies, the majority of their earnings come from a loyal and long-term customer set. By having a brand reputation strategy, you can more closely look at what marketing or sales avenues are more likely to generate brand loyalty.

Read Also: What is Horizontal Branding?

For example, Amazon is a brand loyalty leader in the US as both an online retailer and a video streaming service. With their loyalty program Amazon Prime, committed customers join an exclusive membership and receive free two-day shipping, plus extra perks like video streaming and music. This develops brand trust and the ability to attract repeat customers and helps avoid brand dilution.

How to Build and Manage Your Brand Reputation

Your brand needs a proactive and reactive reputation management approach if you want to enjoy all the benefits and none of the drawbacks. Here are some pointers and resources to help you.

1. Build your brand identity

Before you can even think about your reputation, you have to create a brand worth managing. Developing a strong and cohesive brand identity ensures that you have a clear understanding of what your company stands for, helps guide how to act in certain situations and enables you to grow your company with brand extensions without sacrificing integrity.

For example, Corksicle, a line of innovative barware, canteens and tumblers understands their target consumer and communicates with a strong visual identity of bold colors and creative packaging. Corksicle’s clearly defined brand identity appears in every touchstone of its business, from its logo and packaging to its website copy and social posts.

Your brand identity should include:

  • A cohesive visual language, featuring branding elements like your logo, colors, and imagery
  • A consistent brand voice
  • A well-defined company mission, vision, and value statement

2. Establish your online presence

Your website may be the first place where people encounter your brand, so make sure to create a website that allows visitors to experience your brand identity and form an accurate impression of your business right off the bat.

If you want your brand to be perceived as professional and straightforward, make sure your visitors’ experience is too. For example, you might want to double check that there are no spelling errors or grammatical mistakes. If you want your brand to come across as more visually oriented than loquacious, substitute copy for big, high-resolution images that help show your message rather than tell it.

3. Actively ask for and respond to reviews

While you can actively shape your owned channels, like your blog and social media, your brand also has its own external online presence. People who feel passionately about your brand—good or bad—will find a public forum where they can share their thoughts. It’s clear that reviews on sites like Google My Business, Yelp, TripAdvisor and Facebook play a huge part in shaping public perception, even in the minds of people who’ve never directly interacted with the brand being reviewed. If these platforms are relevant to your business, make sure to claim your brand’s profile and start collecting reviews.

You can maintain some control over this by creating a space for customers to leave reviews and add customer testimonials to your site. If you sell products on an eCommerce website, make sure there’s an area for customers to rate and review their purchases.

No matter where they appear, be sure to respond to all of your reviews as they roll in—even the negative ones. If you address them quickly and honestly, many times you can turn a poor customer service experience around and retain their business. Not only that, it’ll show people reading the reviews that you care enough to listen and to resolve issues and complaints.

4. Listen to feedback

There are steps you can take to influence what people think about your brand. But keeping an eye on what people are actually saying about it is the key to great brand management. Start with adding a form builder to create custom feedback directly on your site. Whether you get beta testers for your products while you’re building them, or you ask customers for feedback after they’ve used your product or bought something, the input is incredibly valuable.

As your company grows, there are a number of platforms and tools you can use to keep tabs on what people are saying about your brand.

  • Google Alerts, for example, allows you to set up as many alerts as you want and receive a notification by email whenever your keyword (in this case, brand name) shows up in Google. It’s wise to also set up alerts for common misspellings of the company name, popular product or service names or even key people in your company, like the CEO. You might also consider setting up Google alerts related to industry-specific news and trends, so you can stay on top of them and make your brand known for being ahead of the curve.
  • Social listening tools provide you with monitoring software that can analyze online comments or conversations about your brand. Platforms like Sprout Social, Hootsuite, and BuzzSumo will give you those Superman-like listening powers. These tools enable you to gain insights on your customers, understand their pain points and learn from your competitors.
  • Other reputation management tools like Brand24, BrightLocal, and Mention will expand your listening skills to other websites, blogs and newspapers, review sites, and more. You can also use Wix Analytics to look inward and make data-driven decisions like reviewing your site traffic or the behavior of visitors to your site.

To take the insights you’ve gleaned from your reputation management and social listening tools, here are some KPIs that will help you evaluate how to adjust your strategy going forward:

  • Sources: Who’s talking about you? What does that say about your audience? Have you reached the right people with your brand and messaging? What has them talking the most about your brand—and is it a good thing? Consider going directly to the source and see how others are responding. For example, if your Twitter feed suddenly gets a lot of attention, stay on top of what people are saying and carefully determine how you will participate, or not. For example, take a look at how the Disney+ TikTok account acknowledged the overpowering popularity of the Encanto movie soundtrack. One song in particular, “We Don’t Talk About Bruno,” the earworm we’re all humming, fueled its own TikTok trend among parents teasing an interrupted workday or task. Disney+ took note and followed suit, posting their own TikTok with the caption, “Us welcoming the Encanto soundtrack into every corner of our lives.”

5. Improve the customer experience

According to data from Microsoft, 58% of customers who feel like their experience falls short with a brand will sever their relationship with them. But it’s not just the lost business you should concern yourself with.

Customers who’ve had a poor experience are much more likely to leave a public-facing review for a company than those who’ve had a good one. While potential and existing customers might not go searching for your employees’ reviews, they’re definitely going to seek out information on other customers’ experiences.

A recent survey from ReviewTrackers found that 35% of consumers only consider doing business with brands that have an average star rating of 4 or higher, while 10% go straight for 5-star companies:

Perhaps an even more powerful statistic from that survey is this: “94% of consumers say a bad review has convinced them to avoid a business.”

Remember, all it takes is just one other person to have a poor experience with a company for others to decide they don’t want to do business with them. So, be prepared to manage your brand reputation before others do it for you.

You can improve your customers’ experience—online, over the phone, on social channels and in person. And have a conflict resolution process in place, so you can try and resolve any dissatisfaction or negative feelings when a poor experience arises.

6. Shape a great company culture

If you follow your brand reputation strategy, it’s likely your company will grow beyond a one-person side hustle. Now that you have a team of helpers, remember that good things happen when companies promote a healthy and positive internal environment. By giving your team members meaningful work and empowering them to take charge of their professional lives, they become more confident and productive collaborators instead of just individual contributors.

This can have a huge impact on your brand’s public reputation. One reason for this is the trickle-down effect. When employees feel more satisfied and fulfilled by their work, they take pride in what they do and, as a result, do better work.

Even if your team isn’t totally customer-facing, the work they do will eventually get in front of your customers. Your social media writers, product designers, and administrative team are responsible for making decisions and doing work that effectively shapes what your brand looks like to the public. So, you need all of it to be top-notch.

Another reason why companies need to foster positive company culture is because it impacts internal brand reputation. Remember, it doesn’t take long for an internal brand reputation to be shared outward, especially on social media. Sites like Glassdoor or Indeed provide a glimpse of a company’s culture to prospective employees. The better your employees feel supported and proud of their work, the more positive influence it can have on your overall brand reputation.

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