What is Brand Reputation?
Brand reputation is a brand’s overall standing in the public eye based on how customers and stakeholders perceive it.
It’s an intangible asset that can significantly impact brand success. Brand reputation is built over time through brand messaging, customer experiences, and brand advocacy or lack thereof.
The concept of brand reputation is often used interchangeably with that of brand image or brand identity.
Why Does it Matter?
Brand reputation is essential to brand success, as it significantly impacts customer loyalty and brand recognition.
Consumers form opinions about brands based on brand reputation, which can ultimately determine whether or not they choose to purchase from that brand.
A good brand reputation can enhance customer loyalty, create word-of-mouth marketing opportunities, and differentiate your brand from competitors. For this reason, brand reputation is an invaluable asset for any business, big or small.
Reactive vs Proactive Approach
Generally, there are 2 approaches to managing your brand reputation.
Reactive brand reputation management involves responding to negative feedback or criticism when it arises to mitigate damage.
This type of brand reputation management primarily acts as a damage control strategy. Besides, it is often used when a brand’s reputation is already taking a hit, specifically during a crisis.
It focuses on responding quickly and accurately to customer complaints, criticism, and feedback from online and offline sources.
On the other hand, proactive brand reputation management involves taking preventative measures before any issues arise.
One example of such is the crisis management plan. It helps prepare businesses to protect their brand when public relations disaster strikes.
Companies must identify potential risks and create actionable response strategies in creating a crisis management plan.
It aims to ensure that the brand’s reputation stays intact or at least is not irreparably damaged by any potential events.
This requires businesses to be prepared to respond quickly and appropriately with specific messaging or communications strategies ready.
It’s no surprise that one of the most iconic Malaysian brands, Petronas, is regarded as the most adept at crisis management. Approximately 2 out of 3 Malaysians believe such to be the case.
Strategies for Managing Negative Feedback and Reviews
You have read that the reactive approach involves responding to problems. On the other hand, the proactive approach involves inventing preventive measures before the problem escalates.
However, you will need more concrete strategies on what to do when facing negative feedback.
1. Don’t take it personally
No brand is perfect, and it’s impossible to please everyone. Negative feedback can be difficult to hear, especially regarding brand reputation.
It’s easy to take such feedback personally and become defensive, but there are better approaches than this.
Customers’ feedback often signifies that they care about the brand, not because they want to tear it down. Becoming defensive will only predispose you to respond with retaliation or insults.
2. Respond quickly and professionally
When responding to negative reviews or criticism, do so quickly and politely. It is important to focus on staying positive and maintaining a professional demeanour.
Acknowledge the issue, apologise, and offer a solution.
Recognising the customer’s feelings is also important instead of just brushing them off or trying to downplay them. Showing that you understand their perspective and are willing to work towards a resolution helps rebuild brand trust and customer loyalty.
The response should also be solution-based.
Find ways to offer solutions that can help mitigate the problem and make things right for the disgruntled customers. This could involve offering discounts, refunds, or special offers to apologise for any inconvenience caused.
3. Follow up
Providing solutions alone is not enough to appease dissatisfied customers; after all, they would feel like they have wasted their time.
Following up with customers after an issue has been resolved is key to brand reputation management. It shows them that you care about their experience and are willing to go the extra mile to make it right for them.
This can help rebuild brand trust and improve brand loyalty, thereby maintaining a positive brand reputation in the long run.
4. Learn from it
Learning from mistakes when managing negative feedback and reviews is essential to brand reputation management.
Evaluate why certain issues arise and look for ways to improve your brand’s response in the future. Start creating a customer feedback loop that allows you to collect customer feedback regularly.
Make analysis and adjustments based on the feedback, as they will help you avoid any brand reputation issues that may arise.
How to Build a Positive Brand Reputation
Brand reputation management is more than just handling negative feedback or crises. For your brand to succeed, building a positive brand reputation is inevitable.
So what do you need to do?
1. Know your audience
Understanding who your stakeholders are and what they expect of your brand can lay a better foundation for building a positive brand reputation.
Stakeholders can include customers, employees, investors, suppliers, and industry influencers. It is strongly advised that companies not ignore employees.
Often, employees have the most insider information about the companies, wielding incredibly potent influence in moulding the brand’s reputation.
Therefore, take the time to understand each stakeholder group, especially the customers. Gauge into what they value to create brand messaging that resonates with them.
2. Be transparent and authentic
Transparency and authenticity are two key elements of brand reputation management.
Transparency, in this case, entails being open and honest about your brand, products, services, and values. In addition, such honesty also entails admitting fault instead of covering it up or finding a scapegoat to diffuse responsibility.
Doing so shows your stakeholders that you are genuine, trustworthy, and reliable.
Authenticity is also important. It involves staying true to your brand visions and values and sharing stories that reflect your brand’s personality.
This helps customers understand what makes you different from competitors and creates an emotional connection with them via social media platforms.
3. Respond to feedback
Responding to positive and negative feedback is essential for building a positive brand reputation.
A brand’s reputation can be built up or torn down quickly depending on how quickly and effectively customer complaints are addressed. By responding to good and bad customer feedback, brands show that they value their customers’ input.
4. Support charitable causes
Supporting charitable causes and investing in community relations is a great way to build a positive brand reputation.
It shows that your brand is committed to giving back to the community. Moreover, it presents an opportunity for your stakeholders to connect with your brand at an emotional level.
When choosing charitable causes and which organisations to support, select those that align with your brand values and mission.
This is to ensure that the causes you get involved with are authentic and resonate with customers. Additionally, it’s important to keep customers informed about any charitable activities or community initiatives your brand engages in.
For example, 67% of Malaysians are aware of and agree that EPF contributed much assistance and support to local communities.
Evidently, EPF has successfully propagated its CSR efforts, hence its positive brand reputation.