Ways for Brands to build a positive Reputation

Ways for Brands to build a positive Reputation. In my 30 years of career I’ve worked with many (thank god for my competence) reputable companies, but also with those laggards staying behind. I know why so many companies aren’t (seen as) reputable. They care more for the logic. The operations. The profit margin. The top-line. For these, they use some ‘commodity’ claims (history, heritage, XX years) thinking that they are “saved”.

Ways for Brands to build a positive Reputation

For years commercial, sales, and company operations people (even Marketers!) regarded the Reputation as the ‘nagging’ (or nice to have) of the Communication’s department or a cliche of PR agencies.

It took them 20 years (thanks to the globalization’s maturity) to realize that the Reputation is the No1 reason for B2B pre-sales, and Consumer intention to buy. Companies are still not 100% convinced that “owning the Reputation” is a business and Brand prerequisite. Some don’t know how to do it.

But the company and brand Reputation is 100% personal (interpretation) for shareholders, employees and their families, business partners and prospects and finally (the most important…) customers and the media.

W. Buffet said, that you can work for 20 years to build the reputation, but it can be lost in 5 minutes. This is especially true today in the ‘digital world’ where consumers are constantly connected. One wrong move and the Brand is exposed.

Reputable companies “only they…”

Do you own a vegan-pastry shop? Is your shop an exclusive ‘products of origin’ place? Are you into a theme-tourism-destination? Is your hotel offering something really special? Are you a patented 5G architect? An FMCG with triple-action, triple volume, and a triple discount compared to its universe? Customer value service expert? A digital agency for strategic counselling only?

There you have it. First things, first. Reputation starts with a unique offering, or at least above par. All others (similar products, ‘me-too’ offerings) are in the parity situation. If you get your Brand identity right, it means you have a really different positioning, so in turn, you are in an advantageous position to create and nurture a positive reputation.

Most businesses in the industries and digital transformation can’t reap success, because their model was created 25 years ago (merchants, wholesalers, telecoms etc.). Example: in Europe, we have 500 telecom operators fighting over the same model. Access, Price discounts, devices. While in the U.S. they are four.

Reputable companies “stand out for…”

Sometimes, companies don’t own a unique proposition, but they put their whole image efforts and PR work into causes, communities, and goodwill. They try to attract customers, do their employer branding and many more through mission-driven activities.

That’s good. Tom’s shoes and giving back. Nestle and Coca-Cola supporting poor areas. Nike and young athletes. Vodafone Foundation and Youth causes. Maersk and sustainability. Harvard Business Review reports that over 80% of millennials feel that making a positive difference is more important, and consumers overwhelmingly prefer social causes. People want to know their money is being spent wisely to help others.

Reputable companies “did it first!”

Another strategic approach for reputable companies is to intervene/stand-out/take action first and showcase its Values. The US is burdened by droughts and water demand. So Budweiser did the right thing: stopped its beer production to can water and distribute it to the deficient areas.

bud-water-sb52-PAGE-2018

Photo source: Adweek

In the Attica region’s July wildfires the social media ‘echo’ was extremely positive on companies that introduced “disaster relief” initiatives: free food, temporary shelter, free fixed line costs, no private insurance payments, no-charge of energy utility bills. From small coffee shops, up to big corporations.

For years, UPS have used their logistics expertise to fly and ship food to numerous countries by partnering with the World Food Programme. Or even PR agencies have donated their time to media-train NGO’s and cause-related groups. The floor is yours to be inspired and inspire…

Reputable companies “Communicate constantly…”

Companies that aren’t basing their Reputation on sales-customers-partners (only), or on their nice website’s UX are firm believers of proactive, transparent and creative Communications. No matter the channel. No matter the theme.

They communicate to leverage their core strengths. They communicate their goodwill partnerships, their unique Culture, their achievements. Here are the research verbatims I often see. Companies ‘hiding’ or laying-low (their corporate and brand voice) are most of the times considered as ‘indifferent‘, ‘something to hide‘, ‘who knows what they are doing‘, ‘they are only caring for money‘. Companies come across as more authentic when they communicate and are open to dialogue.

Conglomerates, shops, e-shops, online creators, and startups can communicate anything of the below to build their Reputation:

  • Vision & Leadership: CEO, executive team, market development, vision, future
  • Financial performance: outperform competitors, profitability, low-risks, growth prospects
  • Social Responsibility: support good causes, environmental or community responsibility
  • Workplace: culture, employees reward and recognition, a good place to work
  • Products & Services: quality, innovation, value for money
  • Emotional Appeal: feel good about, product, or service trust

Character is like a tree and reputation like a shadow. The shadow is what we think of it; the tree is the real thing.

Abraham Lincoln

Reputable companies “Are successful in…”

Companies that want to be seen as leaders, or reputable partners (for their Customers and stakeholders) define targets from the beginning. Beyond their sales’ bottom line, they track results on physical interactions, digital engagement, and social contributions. We’ve helped XYZ people, supported XYZ groups and more. How many satisfied customers responded to our questionnaire. How much do we contribute to adjustent communities?

That defines not only their activity targeted outcomes, to be able to correct course of action, but also their perceived and real success. Again, these good practices don’t belong to big conglomerates but should be the practice of any brick-and-mortar company owner and its staff, as well as the online creators.

Reputable companies “Look in the future…”

Reputable companies do innovate often. In Services, in products, in support. Not because of technology disruptions, but because they care for their customers and their industry. They want to sustain the leadership perception while bringing Value.

They don’t just ‘jump in the bandwagon of trends’, but they look after their model for good reasons. DHL and it’s customer-feedback community. LEGO producing toys that kids propose. AON who’s introducing AI to serve more insurance customers fast.

On the other hand, you have companies (again, size isn’t important!) who refuse to adapt. The same offering, same service, same price for…ages! A brand that doesn’t respond to changes positively and quickly will see their sales decline, loyalty disappears, and Trust flying away.

Reputable companies “Are authentic…”

Building an authentic brand comes from within and permeates every aspect of a company. Marketing as an authentic brand means investing the time and ensuring that your message aligns with your core values and actions.

Who’s authentic? Zappos’ service. Amazon’s deliveries. Dropbox security. Adidas quality materials. AT&T’s global innovation. Hilton’s unique loyalty programs. Million dollars club low-cost promise. WWF’s global activation. Apple’s ‘give-back’ program. Dove’s real beauty idea for women. And these examples stay authentic for long, it’s not a marketing ‘gimmick’.

Why? Because all these companies are honest and transparent in what they say and do. They are honest even in times of crisis or scrutiny. They are transparent in their customer support and don’t over-promise ‘myths’. They are honest because they get constant feedback to improve.

Take the example of Tesco Mobile in the UK. The company responded to the criticism of their service with witty replies to customers on social media. Rather than becoming defensive to complaining Customers, they saw the humour as an opportunity to reply individually…and ease the tension.

Reputable companies “Listen…”

Building a positive Reputation will not happen overnight. It takes time, effort, and commitment. It primarily needs strategic work in the company’s digital and social media presence, the current way the world interacts.

  • Be present – make all digital assets work for the search engines
  • Quality content – shareable valuable content that helps
  • Listen to people – even the hardest comment hides a valuable input for your business
  • Monitor trends, keywords, and issues – the corporate and brand are merging into the new brand
  • Review your communications – every week, new learnings will appear – adapt and improve
  • Target ROI – focus on narratives that influence, inspire, or pre-sell
  • Speak to the crucial groups – of course, Customers, but also staff/investors/media/partners 24/7
  • Invest in Branding – internal (employees’ passion) and external (associations and recall)
  • Invest in PR themes – create narratives that will organically build your Brand in google

Reputable companies do 3 things

No1. They create Value in everything they do, from a mere product pricing, up to support a community’s cause. They have only one thing in mind: serve the customer in excellence and profit will come.

No2. They deliver Value because they deliver 100% of what they promise to their audience. Fast? Innovative? Secure? Tasteful? No additives? Certified? Low-price? No ‘games’ here.

No3. They capture Value because they always look for new opportunities, geographies, and customer segments, improving what they do and evolving their offering.

Closing

In my 30 years of career I’ve worked with many (thank god for my competence) reputable companies, but also with those laggards staying behind. This not only helps me see clearly, but I also know why so many companies aren’t (seen as) reputable. They care more for the logic. The operations. The profit margin. The top-line. For these, they use some ‘commodity’ claims (history, heritage, XX years) thinking that they are “saved”.

But after the transformation’s end only 40% of the companies and the models we know, will continue to exist.

What will they do?