How to Build Your Brand Image
How to Build Your Brand Image The reputation of a company can offer a decisive competitive advantage. In order to positively influence the image and counteract negative opinions about the company or the brand, those in-the-know use so-called reputation management.
Reputation management controls both online and offline measures with the aim of improving the company or brand image. Successful reputation management increases customer retention and ultimately ensures more trust among (potential) customers.
Table of Contents
What Is Reputation Management?
Reputation management is about shaping the reputation of a company, a product or a person according to the desired image—usually as positive as possible. This is because the following simple rule applies: the better the reputation of a company, the more it can keep existing customers and win over new ones.
Often the PR Department does most of the reputation management and receives support from Marketing or Customer Service. PR managers or marketers disseminate current successes and company developments as well as points of view in certain areas, such as diversity, sustainability or other current and socio-political topics. This happens e.g. at press conferences, in press releases, by participating in or organizing events as well as through various marketing channels such as social media or SEO.
Reputation management can make sense for companies or brands as well as for private individuals. This post deals with the former—although much of the content is equally relevant for both.
Proactive vs. Reactive Reputation Management
Proactive measures serve to sharpen the company profile with regard to various topics on which the company would like to position itself, and thus convey to its target group that they are dealing with a trustworthy partner who shares their values. They should put the business concerned in a good light and also form a protective wall, so to speak, against negative expressions of opinion.
Reactive measures on the other hand mean the reaction to negative content—bad press, negative customer ratings or expressed opinions. The goal here is to neutralize the negative reports. This should be done ethically, otherwise it can quickly put the company in an even worse light. For example, this can apply to negative comments on social media. In such a case, the comments concerned should not simply be deleted, but rather be reacted to with confidence—otherwise the shit storm will quickly become even bigger than before in the worst case.
What is Online Reputation Management?
Online reputation management (ORM) is a sub-category of general reputation management and focuses on the company’s online presence. It therefore includes the management of all platforms and channels on the Internet on which the company is represented—whether established by the company itself or not. These include, but are not limited to:
This includes platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr and Instagram, as well as video portals such as YouTube or Vimeo, on which users share their opinions. Posts on these platforms are always the starting point for viral movements—which can also be directed against companies. Influencers now also play a major role on these platforms. Their opinion can influence many users at once.
Platforms such as Yelp, TripAdvisor, Trustpilot, kununu and many more are used solely for the publication of reviews by customers or employees. But reviews on Amazon, Google My Business or other platforms that are not only used to publish customer opinions can be relevant. Because not only the users of the respective portals see the ratings—some of them also appear prominently in the Google search results.
A customer has an urgent question, picks up the phone, and reaches … the answering machine?! The well-deserved evening is understandable, but the fact that a chatbot or other direct communication options are not even used is very annoying from the customer’s point of view. Therefore, round-the-clock availability and the formulation of clear times and channels of availability should be on the list of priorities.
Similar to influencers, bloggers can also influence the reputation of a company because, depending on their popularity, they reach many subscribers and, with good search engine optimization, are also high in the search results. Blogs usually deal extensively with a certain topic—which can also include brands, products or services—especially if the blogger concerned is dissatisfied.
Depending on the structure, your own company website also invites visitors or customers to leave comments and ratings. This is very often the case on shop pages where products are sold online. But the company blog can also contain comment fields in which visitors can post their opinion.
Search engine results
In the Google search (or a search in another search engine) all sorts of different information is collected—from media reports to pages on the company website to the aforementioned forums and blogs. The channels and platforms on which the company has direct influence should therefore be optimized as far as possible so that positive contributions appear higher up than possibly unfavorable ones. In the case of channels that cannot be influenced (e.g. media, blog or forum posts), preventive measures should be taken to ensure that there is no negative publication in the first place—otherwise, however, action should be taken quickly and good damage control management should be in place.
Why is Reputation Management Important?
In addition to a good reputation per se, a good brand image brings a number of economic advantages to companies:
- Free recommendation marketing: Thanks to the positive reputation, existing customers quickly become brand ambassadors and recommend companies or products to friends and family. They also leave positive experience reports or ratings on various platforms, which helps to attract new customers. So a good reputation is the best way to advertise a company.
- Increase in sales: Customer ratings and reports influence prospects and are often the deciding factor for or against a purchase. A positive reputation ensures more trust among (potential) customers—both in the brand and the products. This enables companies to generate more purchases without additional effort and thus achieve greater sales.
- Increase in market value: Investors are not only interested in a company’s profitability, but also in how a brand is received by the target group. The market value can consequently increase with the reputation or, in certain situations, prevent a drastic decline.
- Employer branding: A positive corporate image plays an important role in the recruiting process. The reputation of the company can have a decisive influence on potential applicants and thus also the talent pool of the company.
The Impact of Online Reviews on Corporate Image—and Sales
Customer ratings are an integral part of a company’s web reputation. According to a study, 45 percent of German internet users publish reviews online after purchasing a product or using a service. Buyers often want to vent their frustrations, especially with negative experiences, and publish their report in various portals.
The same study found that at least 38 percent of German internet users trust online reviews more than in-store advice. That means that whatever users write about your company on the Internet meets with open ears and thus has a significant influence on how (potential) customers regard you.
If you now take into account that around 76 percent of German internet users read product reviews before making a purchase (source: BVDW) and 53 percent of German internet users confirm that their purchase decision is influenced by positive product reviews (Bitkom), which shows the decisive effect on company sales. A study by the comparison portal Capterra found that companies with product reviews generate 75 percent more leads than companies without customer reviews. If the reviews are negative, companies can lose potential customers even before they get in touch.
Online Reputation Management in 3 Steps
A good reputation is not created overnight. A long-term reputation strategy is only possible with efficient planning, development, maintenance and control. Therefore, companies should take all of these elements to heart:
- Corporate Reputation Planning:
Companies need to be aware of what exactly they want to achieve and what their corporate or brand image should look like. These are usually at least partially already specified by the company values, but can also include other topics. Example topics with which companies would like to associate themselves positively can be sustainability, working conditions for employees, equality or other critical social issues. In addition, companies should be aware of which platforms and channels their target group is on and which of them are the most influential.
- Building Online Reputation:
When the plan is created, the second part of the reputation strategy follows: Building the desired online reputation. The identified platforms and channels are now used here. With the help of PR, marketing and customer service, they are continuously updated with relevant content. This includes, for example, posts in social media, events, press releases, advertising messages, but also direct engagement with customers via customer service or on various platforms.
- Maintenance and control of online reputation:
Once it has been set up, everything is far from over—this is where the real work begins, because the company’s reputation has to be continuously monitored and maintained. In order to identify potential threats to the brand image, the company needs an excellent monitoring system. Care consists of proactive and reactive measures. Here, too, any measures should be implemented in accordance with the reputation strategy.
5 Tips for a Good Brand Image and a Good Reputation
- Appear authentically: To pretend and try to portray something that you are not is usually always a bad idea—this also applies to companies. You should make sure that your internal and external communications align with your values, goals and corporate philosophy in order to appear credible.
- Show honesty & transparency: If questions or criticism arise, companies should not hide behind walls. The better choice is to honestly admit mistakes and take action and communicate openly. With transparency, a company signals that it has nothing to hide.
- Communicate consistently: Most companies manage many different channels for which different employees or agencies are responsible. It is important that all parties communicate the same image across all channels and platforms—otherwise it quickly leads to confusion or even distrust among consumers.
- Appear in person: Users should be able to identify with a brand. To achieve this, it is important that companies—especially on the internet—pay attention to personalized communication and show humanity.
- Take criticism to heart: Companies should never react negatively to criticism or try to sweep it under the rug. You should always respond in a professional and respectful manner. Criticism can also be helpful in improving the customer experience. Improvements can be communicated publicly and thus have a positive influence on the brand image.
Online reputation management tools and software
Because reputation management is a much broader area, there is no such thing as an “all-in-one” tool. Instead, there are a number of platforms for monitoring and action measures, which in combination support comprehensive reputation management. Here are some examples:
Monitoring Tools and Software
- Google Alerts: This Google service notifies you by email every time a search term you have chosen—for example your company or product name—appears in Google search results. You can create as many alerts as you want—free of charge.
- Buzzsumo: This software allows you to search the web for any content that contains a chosen search term and also provides you with information on the engagement associated with each search result.
- Mention: You can use this software to monitor mentions of your brand or product online—on social media, forums, blogs, and more.
- YouScan: This tool makes it possible to search social media and the rest of the web for mentions of selected keywords and analyze them in terms of their social impact. One highlight is the image recognition function of the visual search.
- CISION: In addition to monitoring the communication channels, CISION also supports the sending of press releases, a media database and success evaluation.
- Meltwater: With Meltwater you get media analyzes and real-time reports via your social media channels. This tool also provides a database with media contacts.
Tools and Software for Action
- Reputology: This platform for managing online ratings supports you in monitoring, analyzing and responding to reviews on various rating portals.
- Hootsuite: This software allows you to manage many profiles on different social media platforms at once.
- zenloop: The feedback software helps you build a continuous cycle of customer feedback and ratings. It enables you to forward your customers to a strategically important review portal after they have given them positive feedback in order to submit a review there.
Reputation Management with zenloop
zenloop can be used as an action tool in reputation management to get an overview of the topics that concern customers and to use loyal fans for free recommendation marketing. It is an integrated experience management platform based on the NPS and includes the following topics and functions:
- Targeted design of feedback surveys: Users are encouraged to rate their likelihood of recommendation through their interaction or the company as a whole. This is done using a scale from 0 to 10 and a subsequent open text field to justify the answer. The surveys can be integrated at any contact point.
- Analysis of customer feedback: Companies find out which topics have a positive or negative influence on customer satisfaction. With the help of various analysis functions, you can also gain insights into various topics, contact points or other criteria and compare them with one another.
- Quick response to criticism: With the help of automated alarm systems, negative customer feedback can be forwarded immediately to the responsible employees or even a ticket can be opened in customer service. In this way, employees can react quickly to dissatisfied customers and initiate reparation measures. If this succeeds, the publication of bad experiences on the internet will also be counteracted.
- Use of satisfied customers for online reviews: If customers indicate a high willingness to recommend, they can automatically be asked after the feedback survey to publish a review on a strategically important rating portal of your choice. They are automatically forwarded, which means that there is little extra work for the customer.