It doesn’t take much for a brand’s reputation to take a hit these days. Everybody has an opinion and a way to voice that opinion — just as every conversation shapes a relationship, every online interaction moulds a brand’s identity.
When building a brand, reputation management becomes imperative. Any internal or external interaction can make or break a business, but the good news is brands don’t have to take the hits lying down.
A solid brand reputation strategy can save the day. This guide will discuss reputation management and provide you with the skills to safeguard and strengthen your brand’s reputation in the digital landscape.
Brand reputation is what people think and feel about your brand. These thoughts and feelings are shaped by their interactions with your brand, whether in person or online.
Other things that can affect your brand reputation include your logo, how you talk about your brand, how you appear on the internet, the quality of your service, your company ethos, and much more.
Taking care of your brand reputation is crucial. If your brand has a good reputation, it means people trust it. This trust can lead to more customers buying from you and recommending your products or services to others. On the flip side, if your brand has a bad reputation, it will have the opposite effect and possibly harm your business.
Think of it like tending to a garden: if a garden is to grow, it needs cultivating and watering. If left unnurtured, a garden will become overgrown and consumed by weeds and unwanted pests.
To grow your brand successfully, pay attention to your reputation and what people think of your business.
If people regard your business positively, don’t overlook it. For example, you might find genuine and positive reviews on your website or review platforms like Glassdoor, Tripadvisor and Yelp — take the time to reply to them.
If people regard your business negatively, nip the negativity in the bud before it becomes overgrown. Take posting negative comments on social media, for example. Negative comments on social media can spread and tarnish the business’s reputation, potentially dissuading others from engaging with the brand, so they must be dealt with quickly.
There are several types of reputation management:
Creating and sharing positive, relevant content that reflects brand values. For example, if sustainability is a part of your company ethos, promote sustainability in your brand by creating and sharing eco-friendly content that resonates with socially conscious consumers and aligns with your core values.
Enhance online visibility for your brand in search results with effective SEO. Identify relevant keywords, use them strategically in content, and regularly promote your content across channels to attract organic traffic.
Craft and distribute stories to enhance your brand’s image. The stories you create could centre on engaging stories aligned with your audience’s interests or highlight business success stories, like ROI improvement through data-driven strategies, to inspire and connect with your audience.
Shape brand perception effectively with strategic social media engagement. Monitor and respond to comments, reviews and mentions, to build trust and loyalty by showcasing a positive, responsive brand image.
Leverage influencer partnerships to establish positive brand associations. Collaborate with influencers to authentically promote your products or services, enhancing brand credibility and expanding your reach.
Monitoring and responding to customer reviews on various platforms will elevate brands in the digital landscape. Timely responses to reviews can alleviate customer worries, boost positive feedback, manage crises, and offer valuable insights to shape strategies for brand enhancement.
Dealing with negative situations promptly to mitigate damage to the reputation is essential in preserving brand integrity. For instance, swiftly addressing negative comments or reviews on social media demonstrates responsiveness.
The importance of growing a good reputation management strategy is unquestionable. From maintaining a professional image to attracting top talent, reputation management is a tool brands and businesses should utilise. Reputation management can help a brand or business to flourish in the following ways:
Customers are more likely to engage with your services, make purchases, and recommend you to others if they trust you.
Customers are more likely to trust in a business that consistently receives positive reviews for its service — and considering 76% of consumers “regularly” read online reviews when browsing for local businesses it’s more important than ever to establish online credibility.
Business reputation management also equips you to handle unforeseen crises effectively.
Brands can address negative situations quickly with a proactive plan, minimising potential damage and even turning a negative into a positive opportunity for change. For example, if a software company suffers a data breach, having a well-prepared response can rebuild credibility.
This quick thinking also allows brands to squash any rumours or misleading information that might be doing the rounds — something that (sadly) happens in today’s world of trolls and keyboard warriors.
A positive reputation can set you apart from competitors in a crowded marketplace. Faced with a choice between similar services or products, consumers will always opt for the brand with a better reputation.
Setting yourself apart from competitors goes hand in hand with the importance of brand awareness. The more awareness customers have of your services or products, the more likely they are to choose you.
Online interactions influence how a brand is perceived. One way to maintain a positive online presence is to engage with customers regularly and address any concerns that crop up on platforms like social media.
A brand that consistently engages with customers and takes the time to share behind-the-scenes stories conveys a transparent and caring image.
Monitoring customer reviews and feedback provides valuable insight into their preferences and pain points. Brands that understand customer preferences can recognise and double down on what’s working for them. Armed with customer data, brands can make informed improvements to services and products and develop new offerings, leading to higher customer satisfaction.
Strong brand reputation management can attract customers, potential partners, investors, and talented employees. For example, partnerships with well-regarded brands can enhance credibility, while investors are more likely to support companies with positive public perception.
There’s a potential boost to revenue to consider. Great service, plus a solid reputation, equal brands being able to charge competitively (and increase revenue).
Good reputation management can act as a shield against negativity. Proactively addressing issues and consistently delivering on promises means you build a resilient brand that can withstand the occasional hit.
Many things can affect your brand’s reputation. They fall into two camps: internal factors and external factors.
Internal elements such as company culture, employee behaviour, leadership and ethics, and crisis management strategies are pivotal in shaping a brand’s image and perception. If these elements are not carefully managed from the inside out brands risk reputational damage.
Two internal factors that affect your business’s reputation are company culture and employee behaviour.
A positive company culture that promotes open communication and employee empowerment (among other things) can improve brand reputation and spill over into friendly and helpful customer interactions, reinforcing the brand’s reputation as an excellent employer that offers excellent service.
Employees working in a positive environment convey positive employee behaviour, at least that’s the hope, because how your employees feel and act reflects your brand’s culture, professionalism, and reputation.
Chloe Cobey-Mead, Marketing Executive at Reboot, comments:
“One of the ways we foster employee wellbeing at Reboot is through fun and positive “Slack-activities” such as drawing yourself as a dinosaur or guessing the breed of dog to celebrate National Dog Day!
"Our “Slack-activities” give staff a break from their workload on busier days. A short break from tasks helps employees to re-focus and kick-start their creative brain.
"Giving employees something fun to look forward to week on week is essential. It nourishes employees and how they feel towards their working environment, which benefits the company.”
Leadership and ethics tap into company culture and employee behaviour in business. Transparent and ethical leadership will enhance trust and reputation in the eyes of employees, partners and customers, demonstrated by CEOs who openly address any challenges and mistakes that crop up in the business.
Crisis management can impact brand reputation strategy. How well your brand handles crises internally influences external perception and can prevent your brand from facing reputation damage.
Take a data breach as an example. Clear and timely communication between the leadership, marketing, and IT teams when suffering a data disaster can ensure a coordinated and measured response, helping to address the issue, reassure customers, showcase transparency and preserve the brand’s reputation and trust.
Brands should be aware of the external factors that can influence reputation — things like customer feedback, quality of products, media coverage and competitor actions.
Neglecting these factors can lead to reputational challenges, making it crucial for businesses to actively manage and adapt to external influences to maintain a positive brand reputation.
External factors that can interfere with brand reputation management include customer feedback and public perception.
Positive or negative reviews and testimonials, such as those published on a brand’s website or social media pages, will influence how the public perceives your brand. But it isn’t just customer feedback that has the power to influence the public. The sentiment toward similar brands or industries can sway the general public.
For example, at the moment, public sentiment towards sustainability is at an all-time high, meaning if you launch an environmentally-conscious company, the favourable public perception towards all things green can benefit your brand’s reputation.
The reliability and quality of products and services offered directly impact your reputation. For example, for a company known for manufacturing durable and cutting-edge products, customers can bolster the brand’s reputation and credibility by recommending reliable products through positive word-of-mouth and online reviews.
But it isn’t enough to rely on quality products and services. A clear and consistent communication strategy in business reputation management is essential. Clear and consistent messaging that reinforces brand values will resonate with customers. If sustainability is at the heart of your business, reflect it through your packaging, campaigns and social media, where environmentally-conscious consumers will take note.
Factors like media coverage, social media buzz and industry trends feed into public perception.
Well-placed coverage in traditional media or digital platforms can shape opinions on a brand, and this can be particularly effective if it’s relevant to the niche. For example, an SEO company is featured in a reputable industry blog like Moz, highlighting its expertise and establishing itself as a thought leader.
While conversations and engagement on social media platforms contribute to brand perception, so does how well a brand adapts to and aligns with industry trends. For that same SEO company, this could mean redesigning and optimising their website to align with the industry trend towards mobile-first indexing.
The actions of industry competitors can impact your brand’s reputation — but this happens most indirectly. A leading smartphone brand facing a product recall due to safety issues is one example of how a competitor can indirectly affect brands working in the same market and their business reputation management.
At Reboot, the overriding factors to good reputation management are tone of voice, personality and the human touch.
- The tone of voice (TOV) can build familiarity and credibility with consumers. Successful TOV resonates with its intended audience and helps to convey professionalism, trustworthiness, and brand values. Read more about why your brand needs human content here.
- Infusing your brand with a distinct personality creates a memorable identity. Customers who remember your brand are more likely to engage and remain loyal. Personality also humanises the brand, making it reliable and capable of building emotional connections with consumers.
- Incorporating a human touch in content and interactions makes a brand feel genuine and approachable. It reinforces the idea that the brand values its customers and cares about their needs.
Taking the time to establish these factors can make a brand shine. It’s important not to lose sight of them in a world increasingly obsessed with artificial intelligence and chatbots. If a brand feels too clinical or corporate it can cause a disconnect with consumers. Our SEO experiment “AI vs. Humans” even proved that AI-generated content is less likely to rank (on average) than human-generated content!
Jade Halstead, Reboot’s Marketing Manager, adds:
“Humans buy from humans. We all want to feel seen, heard and understood. This is even true when it comes to the brands we buy from.
"The quickest way for any brand to create, enhance or fulfil this human desire is to be more human in your marketing. Be relatable, send all communication from a real human, and make sure your tone of voice matches or is similar to that of your audience.
"This will instantly make your audience feel connected to your brand. Once that connection is formed, your customers are more likely to leave positive reviews, share their experiences and most importantly, recommend your brand to others.”
Consequently, many brands are amping up their personality. Monzo Bank is a great example, so much so that it has become Gen Z’s favourite online banking brand.
Monzo’s tone of voice is friendly and inclusive and, in their own words, completely jargon-free. Monzo puts its customers first, speaks to them in a language they can understand, and they are consistent with their strategy.
The brand even jumped on the Barbiecore trend when they promoted the “Monzo plushie” using the Barbie meme template, showcasing their ability to recognise industry trends.
We can all learn from brands like Monzo.
Bad reputation management can affect brands and businesses, including outcomes like loss of customers and long-term reputation damage.
Here are some of the most common reputational risks that a company might encounter as a result of lousy reputation management:
If a brand is seen negatively by customers, it risks losing business. Customers may switch to competitors if they believe a brand is no longer reliable or aligned with its values, losing their hard-won trust and loyalty.
Unhappy customers also have the power to amplify the impact of reputational issues by spreading negative experiences, criticisms and opinions through word-of-mouth and easy-to-reach channels like social media platforms.
A tarnished reputation can weed its way from customers to employees, impacting morale in the workplace. Unhappy employees are more likely to become less productive and eventually leave, meaning the company suffers from higher staff turnover and difficulties recruiting talent.
But it isn’t just customers and employees that a business stands to lose. If investors or stakeholders are privy to declining customer and staff numbers, they may withdraw their support and all-important funding. Similarly, reputational issues strain relationships with partners, suppliers and collaborators who might be concerned about being associated with a negatively perceived brand.
Damage to reputation can erode a brand’s reputation and equity. Building a strong and profitable business takes time, and a single event can significantly diminish its value if not dealt with properly. As lower conversion rates and sales take hold, it can stifle a business’s ability to make money, leading to a sharp decrease in revenue.
Naturally, reputational crises attract media attention. Mismanaged responses can escalate the situation, potentially turning a manageable issue into a full-blown crisis and exacerbating negative coverage.
Extreme cases of mass media exposure and heightened scrutiny can lead to legal and regulatory consequences. For a business, this could mean legal actions, fines, or interventions, particularly in situations of non-compliance, unethical behaviour or data breaches.
Ultimately, reputation damage has the power to linger long after the incident that caused it. Repairing a damaged reputation can take considerable time and effort, and sometimes damage to a reputation is too vast and irreparable, which is why brand reputation management is vital.
Incorporating these five strategies into your business reputation management plan can help your company stand strong against potential hits.
What’s that saying? Honesty is the best policy! If you want customers, employees, investors and partners to trust in you, openly share your methodologies and ethical practices to show your brand has nothing to hide. Transparency fosters trust.
You might publish whitepapers or guidelines that outline your strategies, the tools you employ, and how you measure success, or explain your stance on topical issues like data privacy and fair practices. Or share behind-the-scenes insights to show how your company works and why it’s successful through walkthroughs and webinars.
Actively participate in relevant online communities, forums, and discussions. Offering valuable insights and support showcases your commitment to the industry, builds a positive reputation among peers, and can help you establish yourself as a thought leader.
Different ways to broaden your community engagement include joining platforms like Reddit to discuss emerging trends, challenges, and strategies. Use sites like LinkedIn and Twitter to contribute to the discussion, offer solutions to common problems, or simply share informative articles. Collaborating on a webinar or podcast is another excellent way to showcase expertise and widen reach.
Sharing insightful content that educates your audience bolsters your reputation and demonstrates thought leadership.
One way to do this is to publish in-depth blogs that cover relevant industry topics that provide actionable tips and real-world examples. Another is to create video tutorials that walk watchers through various tools or techniques. For example, a tutorial on setting up and optimising Google Ads is helpful in digital marketing.
Real-world examples of positive outcomes can inspire trust and attract potential customers. Make the most of this by showcasing successful case studies highlighting how your strategies have benefited clients.
Why not craft condensed versions of case studies to fit on social media platforms? Share a teaser and encourage users to click through to your website for the full story. Or compile a series of short video clips from various customers or clients, each explaining a particular aspect of their success. This dynamic approach can showcase a range of accomplishments and keep viewers engaged.
Look to collaborate with reputable influencers in the industry to endorse your brand’s expertise. Their positive associations can enhance your credibility and reach a wider audience.
Allow influencers to take over your socials for the day! This gives your followers access to the influencer’s insights while exposing the influencer’s audience to your brand. Conduct video interviews or podcast episodes, or even co-create content and networking events with the influencers you partner with.
To help you on your way to creating a solid reputation management strategy, we’ve created a reputation management checklist that’s easy to follow.
Build trust by being transparent about your offerings, pricing, and potential conflicts of interest.
Reinforce your brand’s identity, values, and personality by maintaining consistent messaging across platforms.
Track brand mentions and stay updated on conversations about your company. Three quick ways to find brand mentions include using Google, Buzzsumo, and brand alerts.
Swiftly respond to customer comments and reviews, demonstrating your commitment to customer satisfaction and open communication.
Showcase your brand’s credibility and quality by encouraging satisfied customers and clients to share their experiences through reviews.
Optimise your online content to ensure positive and relevant information about your brand ranks higher in search results.
Position your company as a thought leader and share your expertise (and foster goodwill) by actively participating in relevant online communities.
Develop a clear plan for managing potential crises by assigning roles and practising responses.
Address negative feedback calmly and practically, showing your willingness to resolve issues and offer solutions.
Regularly assess and adapt your brand reputation strategy based on in-house data, feedback from customers and clients, and evolving market trends.
The time it takes to see results depends on the state of your reputation in the first place and how effective the strategies you employ are. It’s also a case of trial and error. If you aren’t seeing results, reassess your strategy.
Yes! A reputation crisis can be a turning point for any business if the business addresses the issue transparently, takes responsibility where necessary, and provides solutions. Using a potential crisis as a catalyst for positive change shows your company is committed to improvement. Plus, you'll build resilience and earn respect.
It depends on how much time and resources you have. A small business owner wearing many hats might struggle to commit to brand reputation management, which can be a full-time job in itself. For a large business, it might be practical and affordable to outsource help.