When we discuss the nuances of the business world, we like to mention branding as the factor that has the strongest influence on a brand image.
The term that often gets lost in this conversation is reputation, that has a more specific and easy to understand the meaning.
Reputation is the belief that a company can deliver satisfying results. One bad press release, one bad product pitch, one poorly phrased email, and this perception can be permanently damaged.
All involved parties, ranging from customers to investors, and even your employees will lose confidence in your organization.
9 Ways to Control Your Brand Image and Boost Your Reputation
So, let’s take a look at how we can handle your brand image especially when the reputation of our startup comes under threat.
1. Test the partner perception
If you want to efficiently repair the damage done to your brand image, you will need to start with parties your business directly depends on – employees, shareholders, investors, suppliers, collaborators, etc.
First, conduct research to discover the points of damaged perception.
Then, identify the values and previous achievements of your company these involved parties respect the most.
Once you gather all these important information you should start an internal assurance campaign that will make sure all the relevant parties are still on board and you have the backing for your future PR moves.
2. Create persuasive ad campaigns
Whether you are trying to repair a damaged reputation, brand image or simply change the way you are perceived by the public, creating a persuasive marketing campaign is, by far, the easiest ways to reach out to a wide audience.
For such campaigns to be successful, though, you need to have a good knowledge of your audience. Find a point of differentiation between you and the competition you can use as a rallying point.
And finally, try to build an emotional connection between you and your customers.
3. Engage in positive activities
Essentially, your goal is to create the noise that will muddle the voices that are speaking against you. At least until you are able to manage the problems that caused your temporary brand image problems.
One of the examples is to organize a series of parties that will remind the public of your previous achievements and values that set your company apart.
No one can say no to relaxing music, pleasant chatter and a couple of good gin cocktails. Alternatively, you can engage in charitable activities that always make for good PR for your brand image.
4. Face your customers one-on-one
Healthy reputation is impossible to achieve without honest, transparent and direct communication with your customers.
Setting up the infrastructure where you’ll be able to interact with your audience as individuals will allow you to quickly respond to eventual complaints, and set up the lookout teams able to identify the early signals of dissatisfaction.
Also, you can use these channels to engage customers in brand evangelization through various incentives like a free trial of your products or services.
5. Make the externally driven decision
Every business is driven by a series of decisions that are, hopefully, inspired by the best interests of the said organization.
If you want to make reputation control a pillar of your company rather than a simple asset you use to put down occasional fires, you need to tightly integrate your CRO and reputation management into the decision-making process.
This way, every move you make, be it a launch of a new product or entering a new market, will be based on public perception and able to exploit it.
6. Use your marketing department to tell a compelling story
Every business in the making tells an inherently compelling story about the underdog that tries to find its place in the market populated by giants.
If you are trying to repair the damage made by some of your departments, or you simply want to gather a couple of easy PR points you should employ your marketing team to use this powerful asset to your advantage.
And showcase your startup as one of the hard-working commoners the customers can easily identify with.
7. Let your customers say something good about you
According to a recent survey, as much as 86 percent of future buyers read the online reviews of local businesses and 91 percent of the value the read opinions just as much as a personal recommendation from a friend.
Keeping this in mind, if you ever need a quick fix for a PR crisis, you should simply encourage your customers to write online reviews and showcase those reviews on relevant marketing channels.
Alternatively, you can incentivize your existing customer pool to engage in evangelization through various social media actions and challenges.
8. Empower your customer base
It is not that big of a secret that customers, in general, prefer to avoid contact with CR agents and look for the answers to their problems independently.
On the other hand, recent research says that 58 percent of them are ultimately unable to find functional online solutions in spite of their best efforts.
Here lies the opportunity to win over current and future customers by devising an intuitive and empowering self-service system that will make this whole process more streamlined.
The more thorough you are the better. Don’t hesitate to use a variety of tools from virtual assistants to detailed video tutorials.
9. Think long-term
Finally, it is strongly advised to avoid any kind of knee-jerk reactions that can permanently damage your company’s brand – even if they seem like the best solution to current PR crises.
As Warren Buffet, an American magnate and investing legend, once famously said – “It takes twenty years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it.”
That is why every PR move you make, proactive or reactive, should implicitly communicate your brand’s values and goals. The lack of consistency can take a strong toll on your reputation.
We hope these nine tips will help you reach a better understanding of the nuances of brand image and reputation management.
Building a strong brand, as the all-encompassing way the public perceives your business, is virtually impossible if you don’t make sure your company inspires confidence.
So, put some effort to turn your organization into a trustworthy partner and you’ll make the best possible foundation for all of the future moves you plan to make.
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Diana Smith is a full-time mom of two beautiful girls interested in the latest SEO and social media news.