How is reputation built? Learn all about it in our guide below.
A company’s reputation is built over time. It begins from the moment one decides to start a business and involves both offline and online reputation management. Building and maintaining a positive reputation doesn’t happen overnight and requires diligence on the part of business leaders and the company’s employees.
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Why Is Reputation Important?
A company’s reputation is everything. It means more success, more money, the ability to attract and keep great employees, the opportunity to market to your demographic confidently, and to expand your brand — even around the world if that is your goal. As Warren Buffett famously once said, “It takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it. If you think about that, you’ll do things differently.”
Is reputation important? Taking the above into consideration, the answer is a resounding “yes!”
Begin with Your Brand to Develop a Positive Reputation
Think about what you want your brand to convey in terms of your products and services. When establishing a new business or expanding your company if you’ve been in business for a while, here are some of the things to consider when looking at your brand’s reputation:
- In creating a logo, developing taglines, and coming up with the company’s value proposition and mission statement, including the overall brand image, how do you want the entire business to be perceived? A first impression is critical, particularly when starting out.
- What market values are you bringing to the table? What makes you different?
- What is your messaging? Your brand reputation depends on how people perceive the company, which means establishing ongoing corporate communications and having a clear message.
- How important is our own personal reputation in the mix? Are you the face of the company? Do you want to be seen as a thought leader? It’s not only the business reputation that matters but also you, the person at the helm of the company. Your own interests should be aligned with that of the business reputation and brand image.
- Is financial performance critical to your company’s reputation? Do you have investors and other stakeholders that you must be accountable to? If you are a large company — public or private — will special interest groups influence how you act in the business world? Or are you independent and follow your core values regardless of outside pressures?
Define Your Corporate Reputation
Think about how you want to define your business’s reputation and how you view success. What adjectives come to mind, and how will you ensure your company is described in the way you want it to be. Some common positive reputation characteristics include:
- Inclusivity and Diversity (strong on social issues)
- Corporate Social Responsibility (ESG)
Implement Ongoing Reputation Strategies to Maintain a Good Reputation
To represent your company’s reputation in the way in which you have defined it, there are several strategies that you should implement to build and enhance the business reputation.
Make Sure You Deliver on Your Promises
In your marketing pieces, advertisements (industry publications, Facebook ads), and email campaigns, as well as on your website and blog, and social media platforms, if you say your products and services are great, make sure you can deliver. If you purport that your employees provide great customer service, then be sure they are responsive and on top of their game. If not, any negative reviews that appear on Yelp, Amazon, Google, etc., could be harmful to your company’s reputation. Reputational risk often comes when we over-promise and under-deliver.
Bad reviews lead to a negative reputation and impact your ability to get new business and new customers. Negative experiences expressed online also lead to potential threats to your overall reputation and ongoing business success. It is, therefore, critical that you not only walk the talk, but that you nip things in the bud with ongoing online reputation management (more on that later).
Network, Attend Conferences
Expand your circle of influence by attending industry conferences to network and perhaps establish new business partners and find new complementary products and services you can add to your portfolio. Attending these conferences helps solidify a strong reputation in the industry for you and your company.
Certifications Help Build a Better Reputation
If you’re in an industry where you can become certified to help build your reputation, then do so. The benefits of certification are many. It shows your commitment to elevating your expertise, the importance of education for you, and it will enhance your already good reputation.
Build a Good Reputation with Great Messaging, Strong Content
Tend to your business reputation like you would a garden. You need to water the plants for them to grow. You need to take care of your reputation so that you maintain a good reputation. Here are some ways to do just that using online presence management to your advantage:
- Make sure your website clearly tells your story, why the company is so great, how you built the business, the culture of the company, the value you place on your employees and clients, the quality of your products and services, and the influence you have and the difference you make in the community — both locally, and globally, if applicable.
- Include case studies and client testimonials on your website to build trust and solidify your corporate reputation and generate word of mouth for ongoing referrals.
- If you are the personality/brand behind the company, make sure your success story is told on the website and in press releases. You want to also build your own reputation.
- Communicate with customers on an ongoing basis. Being engaged means reaching out to your clients on social media and in your blog. Share relevant stories, events, and insights that will resonate with your audience and help underscore your company’s mission and corporate reputation.
- Get published in business magazines such as Forbes, Fortune, CEO World, and Entrepreneur. Share your expertise with well-written articles (no promotional material) to enhance your corporate reputation while also helping with search results. The more positive and optimized content out there, the stronger your online reputation.
Ask for Reviews to Build Up Your Company’s Good Reputation
Your reputation begins with your value proposition and the messaging that supports it. Your good reputation is enhanced by your customers. Ask your clients to talk about their experiences. Depending on the type of business you operate, get them to write Yelp or Amazon reviews. Ask for Google reviews on your website. Spread the word! You want a strong recommendation coming from your customers. It makes selling that much easier.
If you get an unflattering or even harmful review, as we said earlier, nip it in the bud immediately. A negative reputation can ruin an employer brand. Immediately address the negative comment to see if you can turn things around. Of course, you can’t always get positive reviews, but it’s important for all businesses to stay on top of their reviews and respond when something is amiss.
Deal with Reputational Risk Head On
A good reputation can be hurt by one incident, just as Buffett prolifically said, But if you are transparent and honest, you’ll most likely be able to weather the storm. When companies obfuscate and don’t take responsibility is when they get into deeper trouble. If you own a high-profile company and need to come out and make a statement, pay attention to your words and body language. Just be honest by explaining how the situation arose, and you’ll do fine.
Be sure you have a proactive crisis management team in place to help with public relations. You don’t want to see the financial performance of the company suffering because you are unprepared to deal with the miscalculation stemming from a mishap.
For example, look at what is happening right now with the air travel industry. People are traveling in droves. Flights are being canceled in the thousands, baggage is being lost, and travelers are being diverted to places off the beaten path. The airports are experiencing pure mayhem. We hear excuses every day for why this is happening, while airlines with a good reputation — even a great reputation — are being hammered on social media and via word of mouth.
Most airlines are not handling their reputational risk very well. You hear horror stories of people waiting on the phone for 36 hours to get through to the airline until finally giving up and driving to the airport to make a change! You hear about an empty plane flying abroad to pick up 2,000 pieces of lost luggage. There were no passengers of the plane! The fallout to a company’s reputation in the airline industry remains to be seen. The impact on these airlines’ financial performance is also something we shall see down the road.
Work with an Online Reputation Management Company
Having a strategic reputation management plan in place that is both proactive and responsive is critical to a company’s good reputation. Reputation management can be very involved and time-consuming, which is why many businesses use an online reputation management (ORM) firm. You focus on running your business and selling your quality products and services while an ORM manages your reputation.
An ORM will help build your online reputation and company brand with search results that feature positive content. It will create the positive content and features we discussed earlier. An ORM will also monitor your social media for any negative comments to help address them. It will also help remove or suppress any negative or harmful reviews that can be damaging to your business.
An ORM is also experienced in managing reputational risk, which is critical for a business. After all, a good reputation matters when it comes to bringing in more opportunities, more money, and overall success. When brands are in trouble, an ORM can step in and work to rebuild credibility and trust among your customers, shareholders, and all stakeholders. Reputation management takes commitment and investment. An ORM can help you build a reputation of which you are proud of.
Interested in learning more about building and protecting your online reputation? Read more on our blog!