Ben Franklin once said, “it takes many good deeds to build a good reputation, and only one bad one to lose it.”
While he was speaking about a person’s reputation, the same can be said about a brand. A reputation built on years of respectable business practices can be damaged by a single bad news story.
Take for example Tylenol, whose stock plummeted in 1982 after someone contaminated store stock with cyanide. It took years—and thousands of dollars of new safety features—to recover.
Brand reputation management isn’t always that dramatic, but you don’t need your stock to be poisoned for your company to take a hit. Sometimes, it just takes a bad review.
Luckily, there are ways you can build a positive reputation so you can stay ahead of anything that might come your way.
1. Focus On Customer Experience
We’re all familiar with the old adage about customers and being right all the time. And while we all deal with unreasonable customers from time to time, that’s no excuse to disregard the customer experience and just let your patrons “deal with it.”
Put yourself in the customer’s shoes. Look at every step in the customer journey and look for places you can streamline it.
Granted, not every part of that journey is in your power. However, by improving what you can, you can create a strong reputation among your customers.
2. Be Honest
Nothing puts a bad taste in customers’ mouths like dishonesty.
We don’t just mean breaking promises or ripping them off, though those obviously won’t do you any favors.
The bigger issue is that of being yourself. Customers can tell when a brand isn’t genuine. Pandering and trend hopping without any real conviction are sure to put affect your brand’s reputation in a negative way.
For instance, think back on the cringe-worthy Pepsi ad starring Kendall Jenner. While the cola giant tried to seem empathetic to the Black Lives Matter movement, it instead came across as incredibly patronizing.
By positioning their product as the solution for peace, Pepsi seemed to trivialize the very real issues causing tension in our society. Pepsi became a punchline for months.
However, that doesn’t mean you should keep your brand out of the cultural conversation at all costs.
Advertising according to your earnest principles can be a boon to your brand’s reputation. One of the best recent examples is Gilette’s “We Believe” ad that called men to rise above toxic masculinity and be “the Best a Man Can Get.”
While the ad undeniably caused a firestorm on social media, no one was questioning the sincerity of their convictions.
3. Content Marketing Counts
Many companies make the mistake of not prioritizing engagement. After all, it’s not like you get paid when someone shares your blog post, right?
But judging customer engagement in terms of dollars and cents is incredibly short-sighted.
The fact of the matter is that far more people will engage with your content than will put money in your hand. Your content—not your products or services—drives your reputation among your customers (and potential customers).
Don’t worry about selling; focus on creating attractive, valuable, sharable content. If your content is high quality, it can put your brand in front of thousands of new eyes.
And there’s a pretty good chance that some of them will be interested in what you’re selling.
4. Don’t Ignore Negative Reviews
When you get negative feedback, it can be tempting to just ignore it and hope it goes away. After all—has anyone’s mind ever been changed by arguing on the internet?
However, people pay attention to how you respond to negative feedback.
If you find yourself at the receiving end of a disgruntled customer, take the time to get to the bottom of it. Be empathetic and diplomatic. Don’t be quick to write off a customer just because you think they’re being unreasonable.
If there’s any place for you to accept blame, take it. While the reviewer may not be satisfied, your response to the review is public. Other potential customers may judge your brand’s reputation based on your response to bad feedback.
5. Take Care Of Your Employees
While you’re focusing on ensuring customer feedback, make sure you aren’t forgetting about your employees.
As we’ve seen with the backlash against Amazon, the way that you treat your employees can have a huge impact on your company’s reputation.
Ever since Amazon workers spoke out against their working conditions, it almost feels like any mention of Jeff Bezos’ enormous wealth comes with an asterisk.
On the other hand, brands like Costco are well regarded for their employee benefits. With high starting wages, good health benefits, generous time-off allowances and more, Costco has built a brand known for employee satisfaction.
This satisfaction doesn’t just help with employee retention: it also makes them an attractive alternative for any customers who can’t quite jive with the way other big box stores treat their employees. Satisfied and engaged employees are the secret weapon for any company looking to strengthen its brand reputation.
Need Help with Your Brand Reputation Management?
A reputation is a delicate thing. Without careful handling, it can shatter completely, leaving you—and your company—in the dust.
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