Editor’s note: This post was written by Kevin, an account director at Online Rep Management. He has been working in internet marketing and public relations for over 8 years. Kevin got his start working online in SEO, link building, and some affiliate marketing. Kevin is most passionate about helping good brands become online entities. Read more on Google+ follow Kevin on Twitter!
The relationship between reputation and brand is so tightly knit, it is difficult to separate them, or know where one ends and the other begins. Like love and marriage, it is difficult to have one without the other. Unlike the chicken and the egg, we are pretty sure which comes first.
Before a company can develop a meaningful brand, it has to garner a positive reputation from a loyal base of consumers. There are a number of factors that go into building a brandable reputation. Here are just a few.
One of the most critical parts of building reputation is transparency. It is also one of the most difficult things for a company to do. Transparency is all about being upfront with consumers about:
- Who you are
- What you do
- The competitive landscape
- How customers rate your service
Not all of that information is going to be rosy all the time. It is natural to only want to accentuate the positive and cover up the negative. But today’s consumer is a lot more savvy than that. They want to know the good and the bad. They will tend to trust you more if the information comes from you.
One of the best examples of this comes from a company that specializes in credit repair services. On their own site, they have this to say:
Repairing your credit is a chore you can undertake on your own. In fact, there are a large number of consumers who have successfully increased their credit scores after taking the time to research their credit rights and the methods of credit repair available to them. Many of these self taught credit repair experts actually seemed to relish the challenge and can be found providing advice on the many self help credit forums on the Web.
In the short term it would benefit this company much more to let people think that their services are unique, and cannot be reproduced by anyone else. That is not their message. They make a strong case for utilizing their services. But they are quite transparent about your prospects of success without them. This type of bold marketing move goes a long ways to brand that company as one you can trust.
Also read: Branding Like a Boss with John Morgan
It is one thing to be transparent about particular information that you can control. But what about the information that you cannot? There is a saying among the press that printing information a company wants you to print is propaganda, while information they don’t want you to print is called news. That also coincides with the information beyond the control of a company.
Unedited customer reviews are the ultimate uncontrollable information bites. A series of bad Yelp reviews can put a company out of business. A series of good reviews can put an obscure company on the map. The opportunities for gaming the review system are endless. But over time, false reviews are balanced by the sheer volume of honest consumer sentiment about a product or service. These reviews, and how companies respond to them are a cornerstone of reputation building that leads to being branded as the company that people love.
Making It Right
At some point, every company falters. In part One of an interview with Charlie Rose just recently aired, Tim Cook was confronted with the disastrous launch of Apple Maps. He did not attempt to shift the blame or outline the mitigating circumstances. He fell on his sword and offered yet another apology for Apple’s failure in that endeavor.
He acknowledge that many mistakes were made, and that they are continually trying to make it right with their consumers. There is a reason that even in the face of missteps, Apple customers are willing to give the company the benefit of the doubt.
Brand marketing is extremely powerful and is the key to many entrepreneurs’ success. But it requires years of reputation building. With the proper groundwork, a brand becomes a symbol of products and services you can trust, love, and forgive.