No company exists in a vacuum. While it would be nice to simply keep your head in the sand and sell your products without having to have a public profile, contemporary culture means that you have to build your company image and care about company reputation.
There are many things that make up your brand image in the 21st century, and a lot of them are linked to company reputation. Are you aware that 64 percent of customers today will boycott a brand because of its position on a political issue?
We live in a time when public relations can quickly take a nosedive at a moment’s notice. If you’ve suffered a PR disaster in the fast — or you’re trying to avoid one in the future — you have to start caring about reputation management.
This article will walk you through everything you need to know about how to build a brand while improving your company image.
Understand the Difference Between Image and Identity
Developing a good brand image means becoming acquainted with the differences between image and identity.
A brand identity is a set of beliefs, opinions, ideas, and values that your company wishes to put forth. It should be established in your brand’s manifesto and shared by all of your employees. It’s most likely deeply tied to the product or service that you provide.
A brand image, on the other hand, is a set of beliefs, opinions, ideas, and values that other people ascribe to you. It has little to do with what your intention is — though if all goes right, your image should line up with your identity. A brand image is much more difficult to manage than a brand identity because it’s so tied up with the brains of others, and the current cultural consciousness.
But it is possible.
When you understand the difference between brand image and brand identity, you start to see where things can go wrong. Before you make any move, ask yourself a few questions.
Who does this benefit? How would an outsider perceive this? Is the public going to get the complete context?
You could make a business decision with the best intentions, but if the public perceives it as malicious, your image can suffer.
Brand identity is largely about your ideals and your products. Brand image, on the other hand, is about actions.
You could have the loftiest ideals in the world, but if people don’t perceive you as capable of walking the walk, you’ll gain a negative brand image.
Rather than trying to telegraph to people that your brand is, in fact, a good corporate citizen, show it through your actions. Do you want to be perceived as diverse and inclusive? Don’t make an ad telling the world about diversity, show it through your hiring practices.
In the contemporary world, people are very adept at sniffing out phonies. Don’t write any checks that you can’t cash.
Eliminate Negative Content
Freedom of the press is extremely important in our country. That being said, many contemporary news sites and blogs have gone too far when it comes to some of the hit pieces they put out about businesses.
Of course, there are times when the negative press is justified. However, in this day and age, many people are put on blast for misconceptions, things said by accident, jokes, and content from years ago, before said action was considered offensive.
This is why there’s nothing wrong with making use of a reputation management service. These services can help you eliminate content that would decrease your brand image.
While you and your employees might know that the hit piece is an empty piece of criticism, customers and prospective employees might see it and get scared. You want to make sure that when people search your name, only good things come up.
Suppress Negative Results
Not all negative content can be eliminated. That’s why the process of suppression exists.
Are you aware that less than one percent of people make it to the second page of search engine results? This means that if you’re able to overwhelm the search engines with targeted content, you can effectively bury those hit pieces about you.
That is the beauty of suppression.
Suppression isn’t easy to do, however. It’s best to gain the advice of the professionals.
Check out this blog post on what you can do to suppress negative content. If you want to go even further, hire a brand reputation management service. IF you do this, you can focus on the day-to-day aspects of your job, and let others hand the hard stuff.
Keep in mind, however, that the process is largely internal. It’s never too late to start going through some of your old content.
Look for things that might look unflattering, or have aged poorly. No matter what you do, do not give ammo to the hit-piece people.
Fight For Your Reputation
These days, the internet is a beast that no one can control. You can’t simply go about your business and expect your reputation to stay pristine. The internet remembers everything, and people are slow to give second chances.
If you want to keep your reputation good, you have to fight tooth and nail for a good image. The effort you put in will allow people to give you the chance to show them how good you really are.
Understand Company Image
As you can see, your company image is a difficult thing to manage. It’s distinct from your company identity in that you can never 100 percent control what other people think about you.
However, you can make it easier for them to think of you highly.
Take action rather than bragging about how good you are. Eliminate and suppress negative content out there. At the end of the day, fight for a positive image like you would fight a battle.
Your business could depend on it.
For more articles like this, check out our blog. To take action and protect your company image online, speak with a Brand Reputation Specialist at 941-259-4554 today.