You’ve heard of a “crisis of faith,” how about a “crisis of trust”? By many indications, we live in an age with a crisis of trust. Faith in government, trust in corporate leaders, and even belief in a brand have fallen to unprecedented levels. Add to that the fact that the digital age has brought a shopping revolution, and competition is only one click away. Given all of that, you may have developed a touch of cynicism as well: does your brand reputation even still matter?
Perhaps now more than ever, and in surprisingly predictable ways, you can develop and manage a stellar brand reputation. You’ll watch it generate word-of-mouth and create longevity.
Here’s what you need to know.
Why Brand Reputation Still Matters
Before you convince yourself that brand reputation doesn’t matter, ask yourself a few hypotheticals. Would you want to do business with an automaker, after learning that they have been purposely installing faulty parts to generate more service business? Would you invest in a clothing company, after learning that they were making their clothing in sweatshops staffed by children working long days? Don’t you even get a little leery of a sport when news breaks of widespread doping?
In this digital age, despite some lack of trust and cynicism, people do care about reputation. On top of that, news spreads at the speed of light, so leaked photos, YouTube videos and other “inside scoop” spread like wildfire.
The people you want to do business with, invest in, or even work for, are the ones with a healthy brand reputation.
Building Trust in a Cynical Age
Brand reputation management, then is built on several, not unknowable, factors. A relationship of trust builds off of many of the same building blocks of a pre-digital age. The primary difference is really just the addition of the digital component (and the speed of change it brings). You can use those changes to your advantage.
This isn’t just a simple marketing fix, though. Keep in mind that rampant cynicism could mean that reputation takes a little longer to fully establish. If people perceive that you are just manufacturing a reputation, the cynicism kicks in and the opposite effect can occur. So be real.
- Get honest — Tax reputation, treatment of employees, paying on the terms agreed, reliability, etc are a building block of trust. So, if you take a look around and have any clean-up to do in the honesty department, it’s important to fix those internal flaws. Be true to your own brand, and make sure you do what you say you do.
- Be consistent — Longevity of employees, consistency of business practices (such as sales and customer service policies that are universally excellent), and dependable, reliable products all build brand reputation.
- Transparency — Consistency must go all the way through. What you do must match what you say, through any of your branding channels (including social media). Also, if you make mistakes, being honest (and thorough) in acknowledging and fixing those errors goes a long way toward generating a positive brand reputation.
- Word-of-mouth — Word-of-mouth still drives most business, even in this digital age, it has only reshaped. Instead of it being “who you know” it also includes what strangers say about you, such as through online rating sites.
Online Brand Reputation Management
People may trust companies less, but they actually trust each other more. That means that applying best practices to online brand reputation management has the potential to generate more word-of-mouth business than ever before.
News now spreads at the speed of light, and can get posted and reshared for years–which can include positive news of your business.
Crisis of trust solved.