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The competition among brands has intensified due to the internet providing them with a platform to reach larger audiences and target them with ads. Consequently, businesses have shifted their focus towards building their brand reputation and improving their image to outperform competitors.
Although there is significant interest in building a brand reputation, there is still confusion regarding some related concepts such as distinguishing between the brand's message, image, and reputation, as well as difficulties in measuring and evaluating the brand's reputation among its customers and non-customers.
This article aims to clarify the concept of brand reputation, distinguish it from similar concepts, emphasize the importance of building an excellent reputation for your brand, and provide the necessary steps and tools to achieve this.
Brand reputation refers to the overall perception and impression that the market holds about your brand, which is influenced by various factors such as your brand's values, customer engagement style, and other related aspects. This perception can be formed by both your existing customers as well as those who have not yet interacted with your brand.
The factors that affect a brand's reputation can be broadly categorized into three areas: the brand's message, standing out, and credibility. While some of these factors can be controlled, others are beyond the brand's control.
Nowadays, online product reviews have become a crucial source for new customers, as they provide an impression of the brand's reputation and encourage or discourage purchase decisions. This highlights the significance of a brand's reputation in attracting new customers.
The main difference between brand reputation and brand messaging is that brand messaging constitutes the impression brands intend to leave in the minds of their target audience through their language, visuals, and actions, while brand reputation is the actual impression that forms in the audience's minds.
For this reason, an excellent brand reputation can be seen as a successful communication of the brand message, but there are external factors that may positively or negatively affect the brand's reputation beyond the brand's control.
Additionally, the term "brand image" refers to the first impression that comes to the recipient's mind when the brand is mentioned. It is different from the brand reputation in that the reputation is a logical judgment made by the customer based on their interactions with the brand, while the brand image is largely subconscious and is influenced by individual factors.
There are many factors that can positively or negatively affect a brand's reputation, and these factors can be categorized under the following headings:
The brand's message conveys the values, principles, and promises that the brand upholds with regard to its products and services, which brands promote through their marketing campaigns and interactions with customers at every point of contact with the market.
Successfully conveying the brand message to the market is one of the most important things a brand can do to manage its reputation, as the brand has full control over formulating the message, selecting the appropriate channels for its launch, and methods of presentation.
If your company offers something unique that sets it apart from its competitors, that will likely be the first thing a potential customer notices when comparing available options. These points of distinction can contribute to building the brand's reputation and differentiating it from competitors.
To leverage this factor, it's important to study the market and understand what competitors are offering and what customers feel as lacking from those options. By presenting your brand as a distinct and superior alternative, you can establish a positive reputation in the market and stand out from the competition.
The credibility factor is one of the least controllable factors affecting the brand, and one of the most influential amongst these factors, as it depends heavily on what people say about your brand which is influenced by their individual experiences with the brand, positive or negative, which might ultimately be beyond the brand’s control.
The shipping company that handles the delivery of your products may sometimes encounter issues that cause problems for the customer. As a result, the customer may attribute the problem to your brand, leading them to leave a negative review on your site or product page. It is important to note that 46% of online shoppers trust electronic reviews as much as recommendations from friends, indicating that these reviews carry significant weight.
The essential point is that a brand's credibility, which refers to how well it lives up to its promises and mission in the eyes of customers, is a vital factor for success. While it's challenging to manage the situations that can impact individual customer experiences, there are strategies that we can explore later to help safeguard the brand's reputation.
There are various ways that can damage a brand's reputation, and it's not limited to negative reviews only. It can include impersonation of the brand on commercial communication sites, copyright infringement, or even counterfeiting the entire brand.
Some companies may create fake products under a famous brand name such as Adidas, to take advantage of its reputation and deceive customers into buying their inferior products, which can ultimately harm the reputation of the original brand.
In addition, a brand's website can be imitated for malicious purposes, where the fake site may appear similar to the original one with some slight differences and can spread false information that can harm the brand's reputation.
Moreover, it's possible for someone to create a social media account under the name of a well-known brand like Burger King, and respond to users in an offensive manner, purely for entertainment purposes. Screenshots of these interactions may circulate on the internet without clarifying that the account is fake, which can give a false impression of how the brand deals with its customers.
Damaging a brand's reputation can have serious negative consequences, including the following impacts:
Once we have a clear understanding of the factors that affect brand reputation and the potential harms that can be caused, it becomes crucial to identify ways to protect the brand and prevent any negative impacts. The following are some of the most effective strategies for safeguarding a brand's reputation.
Registering intellectual property rights legally should be the first step business owners must take to protect the reputation of their brand, without which the use of their logo or even their name becomes free of consequences, which encourages counterfeiters to do so.
However, registering these rights makes hijacking a brand a prosecutable offense, which can deter counterfeiters and increase the likelihood of legally protecting the brand's reputation.
Social listening involves monitoring social media platforms for mentions of a brand, its products, or services, analyzing the sentiment behind these mentions, and using the resulting insights to develop a plan to address any issues.
Social listening is an effective way for business owners to gain real-time market feedback on their brand and products, and to identify and address instances of brand hijacking by fake accounts.
Numerous social listening tools are available, however, for businesses targeting the Arab market, Lucidya is your best option due to its ability to understand Arabic content in all different dialects, priding itself with the use of an advanced artificial intelligence with high accuracy.
Business owners can use non-disclosure agreements to share confidential information with customers, partners, and potential investors while safeguarding their private information and business. In order to protect the business and this private information, parties must understand and implement the key aspects of the NDA.
Non-disclosure agreements are a valuable tool in safeguarding brand secrets from being made public. By doing so, the NDA protects businesses from having their confidential information used in a negative way to discredit them, such as through imitation or smear campaigns that some competitors may undertake.
Fake websites are created with malicious or criminal intent and can cause significant damage to a brand's reputation. Moreover, they can create confusion for customers and make it difficult for them to access the real brand website, leading to a poor customer experience.
To protect the brand from such fake websites, it is important to identify and shut them down as quickly as possible. One way to do this is to register relevant domain names associated with the trademark, which can help prevent others from using them for malicious purposes.
One effective way to protect a brand's reputation is to educate the public and customers. This can be done through various means, such as creating an educational video that explains how to distinguish between genuine and counterfeit products. By doing so, consumers will be better equipped to protect the brand's reputation and help others to identify authentic products.
In addition to protecting the brand's reputation, educating the audience can also foster trust between the brand and its customers. Furthermore, educating customers on how to use the brand's products in creative ways can lead to greater customer satisfaction and engagement. Therefore, education should be a key aspect of any brand's strategy.
The reputation of a brand is a reflection of its presence in the market and the public's perception of its products and services. While it is challenging to control all the factors that can influence a brand's reputation, there are several steps and tools available to protect a brand's reputation to a considerable extent.