How to develop a better brand in today’s marketplace

David Eisenstadt TCGPR

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Whether you are a large or small developer or builder, there’s virtually nothing more important to your organization’s success than managing your reputation in the marketplace.

You should have a corporate road map to consciously develop an appropriate brand image. And if you do the work to protect it, the better off your company will be in the long run.

Before we can deep dive into how to protect your brand image and reputation, one should understand how reputations are crafted.

Our Minneapolis-based IPREX partner PR firm, Tunheim, has highlighted how faulty business decisions affect reputation management in these well-documented U.S. PR disasters.

  • The now infamous SeaWorld/Blackfish debacle
  • The aggressive and fraudulent sales tactics at Wells Fargo
  • The Volkswagen cheating emissions scandal

Closer to home, there is the ongoing SNC Lavalin saga which has had repercussions on Parliament Hill and around the globe. Other debacles we might recall include Uber’s toxic culture tied to their CEO; the United Airlines passenger dragging incident and the sexual harassment Harvey Weinstein storybook that has trashed his empire.

While all these issues caused significant harm to each brand’s reputations, the organizations (and personalities) in question could not have been saved by their respective PR and communications teams.

Today, Tunheim says, it’s a company’s business practices and how it handles information pre-emptively that will lead to a properly-executed crisis response. Putting short-term profits over a company’s long-term reputation can have long-standing and costly repercussions.

According to an in-depth study from Reputation Institute Founder Dr. Charles Fombrun, “40 per cent of a company’s market performance can be traced to non-financial drivers in the reputation ecosystem, including analyst recommendations, social performance, media exposure and public perceptions.” For example, Amazon carries a high reputation rating within these four main pillars of the ecosystem, and has seen substantial lift in extra revenue in. ExxonMobil, on the opposite end of the reputation spectrum, by contrast, cost shareholders billions in lost market value.”

Tunheim adds: Smart businesses operate as though they are under constant scrutiny of the public, because in many ways they are.

There are many benefits to building a strong reputation as a business:

  • Customers will prefer to do business with you when competitors’ products and services are of similar cost and quality.
  • You have the ability to charge a premium price for products and services.
  • Stakeholders are more likely to support your organization in difficult times.
  • Your organization’s value will rise with the good and fall less with the bad in the financial marketplace.

All the above examples were business problems with reputational consequences.

All companies noted have lost the trust of their customers and it will take time and resources to see if they are able to build back trust.

One of the most important things a business has is its good name, but it can be neglected or put too low on the list of organization priorities. All businesses, organizations, political groups and individuals can benefit from specific strategies to maintain and improve their reputation.

So, how to create a corporate image?

No matter what size you are, or purpose you serve, your corporate image is incredibly important. It’s who you are and what you provide to your purchasers, stakeholders and the public in general. It will also set you apart from your competitors, serving as an effective differentiator. Your corporate image is your brand identity and will let consumers easily identify you through actions, communication and aesthetic.

Here are some basic components of a cohesive corporate image:

  • Start with mission, vision and values: Your company needs to articulate what these are and stick to them as a compass and road map for your entire organization.
  • Know your customers: Do the research to understand who your customer is, understand what they expect to remain a loyal customer. They have choice – make it a no-brainer for them to choose you.
  • Review business practices: Frequently review business practices and tools used to deliver to ensure alignment with mission, vision and values and customer expectations. It’s easy to put short-term profits over these, but if the difference will result in more loyal customers or the loss of customer trust, choose thoughtfully.
  • Know your employees: Your employees are on the frontlines and they will know where there are potential issues, but they need the approval to work on them.
  • Create a culture around reputational management: If you do the above and help your employees feel secure to speak up and work through these issues, you are creating a culture designed to protect your corporate reputation. Your people want to do good and deliver great experiences – and that will be felt all the way down to the end customer.

David Eisenstadt is Founding Partner at TCGPR (The Communications Group Inc.), Toronto. tcgpr.com