How far into the business should Brand Reputation Managers see?
The Reputation Economy
In a world where news travels fast and no one can hide anymore from stakeholder and general public scrutiny, reputation is a prime asset for any brand; irrespective of whether it is a personal, a corporate or organization brand. Customers, investors, and other stakeholders with an eye on any brand will rebuke, criticize, propagate rumors and, in the end, react to the detriment of the brand if they’re not happy. They will react by simply withholding their support for the brand or, worse, by making it their business to tell others about their own negative experiences and those of others; even when the latter have not been conclusively verified. In many cases they will react in both ways, leaving brand reputation managers on the back foot.
No brand can survive the onslaught of stakeholder wrath when this starts to hit. But the manner in which the brand carries itself and conducts its business will determine its credibility in the eyes of its watchers. It will also determine trading success, share price and, eventually, levels of goodwill.
What is to be done?
All successful brands have brand reputation managers who act like sentinels, watching how they’re represented in public and covered by the media. They will step in and correct any ill-informed coverage and provide swift correction to any misrepresentation of their brand. Experienced brand reputation managers understand the need to act swiftly because any delays before stepping to provide facts and correct misrepresentation would leave space for the wrong information to continue spreading and ill-informed conversations to be had, further deepening the damage to their good brand.
But to be successful, brand reputation managers have to be allowed a 360˚ view of the brand, internally and externally, in order to spot trouble and prevent it from developing into crises long before it hits. Brand reputation managers spend much of their time on ‘issues management’, preventing issues from reaching crisis levels that would hamper the normal conduct of business.
The 360˚ Brand Reputation view
Companies in which different departments operate in silos are often the most vulnerable to crises. In such companies, different divisional managers are often territorial and will react defensively to feedback that they do not want to hear, especially when the feedback is unfavorable, coming from someone outside of their own department.
The 360˚ view needed by the brand reputation managers has to enable them to see how business is being conducted throughout the organization and, increasingly, by the suppliers of goods and services to the organisation. This is to ensure that they provide proper advice on adherence to corporate values, and that these are not compromised at any level. Customers and other stakeholders will criticize big business for unethical business conduct by its suppliers and business partners, especially where human rights and environmental impact are concerned.
For more information on how best to manage your brand reputation, contact us.