If you’re new to the business world you may be looking at creating a website, developing your products / services and marketing yourself to a plethora of customers. But did you know that one of the most important aspects when you create a brand is to build a good reputation?
If your brand’s reputation gets tarnished, even just a little bit, you might as well wave goodbye to some potential and current customers. But build and keep a strong reputation around your brand and you’ll give yourself a good chance of earning loyal fans and customers. Consider yourself the Justin Bieber of the digital world.
However, before you can start thinking about preserving your reputation, you need to build your brand. So, here are some tips as to how you can establish and build a positive reputation for your brand:
Create a Brand with a Positive Reputation
- Be Yourself
Regardless of whether your brand’s offline or online focused, it needs to revolve around who you are, what you do and how you want other people to perceive you. You need to be yourself – not a Justin Bieber cabaret act.
According to the American Marketing Association (AMA), the definition of a brand is a design, symbol, sign, term or name (or a combination of these) that are used to identify the services or goods of a seller and to distinguish them from other sellers. When you can consistently manage this, you’ll be able to establish credibility and customer loyalty, delivering your brand’s message with clarity.
- Be Engaging
Now you’ve defined your brand, you need to get out there and start engaging with your specific industry / community and with influencers. You need to start sharing your expertise, asking questions and contacting industry leaders. Networking within your niche will enable you to establish relationships with other people in your industry, creating a pool of contacts that could have a whole host of future possibilities. Remember – this is not about making a sales pitch worthy of any American auto salesman.
- Be Creative with Your Content
Once you’ve connected with like-minded individuals, you need to start bringing your own content to the table. This will enable you to engage your audience and will showcase your expertise, hopefully bringing justified recognition to your brand. The content you create should be of an exceptional quality and should compel your readers. It needs to be informing, entertaining or useful, and most importantly, it needs to be something that people will share.
Need some inspiration? Just take a look at your Facebook and Twitter feed to see what content’s being shared and what’s gone viral. Videos involving cats always seem to do the trick.
- Be Protective
Now you’re getting your brand’s name out there, you need to protect it. Monitor what’s being said about your brand by using tools such as Hootsuite or Google Alerts. By keeping your ear to the ground, you can make sure no-one’s wrongfully trying to tarnish your brand name and diminish your reputation.
Unfortunately, no matter how good you are at monitoring this and preventing negative comments, you are still going to find people saying bad things about your brand. This is unavoidable. But instead of taking these comments to heart and reacting in the wrong way, you need to have a crisis plan in place, just in case this negativity starts to take hold. It’s a worst case scenario but it’s better to be prepared for all eventualities.
- Be Mindful of Your Offline Reputation, Too
While online reputations are increasingly dominant, it’s important that you keep tabs on your offline reputation as well, especially if you have local bricks-and-mortar stores. You need to keep your customer base happy because this will help you to develop brand advocates and brand loyalty. It’s so important that you don’t forget the true value of word-of-mouth because as the AMA found, 64% of marketers feel this is the most effective form of marketing.
Making your customers happy need not be difficult either as it’s all about listening to your customer so you can create an outstanding experience for them. And as soon as you start to notice any negative comments, find out what the cause is straight away. Don’t just dismiss bad feedback as “a crazy customer who doesn’t know what they’re talking about” (even though it’s likely that they are!) because if you don’t manage this properly, your brand could be facing serious problems with its reputation, both online and offline.
How to Blow Your Reputation
When we talk about blowing your reputation, we’re not just talking about an epic Justin Bieber-esque drink-drive arrest because reputations can be affected by much more subtle things. Sometimes, as business picks up and you start to get busy doing other things, monitoring your brand’s reputation can fall by the wayside. Here are some of the things you need to avoid so you don’t blow your reputation:
Paying for Positive Reviews
As you start to build your brand it can be all too tempting to pay someone to create some positive reviews to get your reputation off the ground. But don’t, because this could have the opposite effect on what you’re trying to do. If Google finds fake reviews, they’ll punish your website, pushing it lower in the results so your online reputation is damaged even more.
Encouraging the Trolls
Trolls are all over the Internet and they’re constantly looking for ways they can post negative comments to get a reaction from people. These keyboard warriors need no encouragement, so if you do get a negative comment, don’t fire back with an angry comment because this will only add fuel to the fire. Instead, acknowledge the comment and ask the person to get in touch with you directly so you can discuss it further (by phone or email, for example). In most cases, you won’t even hear from them because a pleasant remark is not the response they’re looking for!
Equally, you don’t want to turn into one of those trolls who hides behind their computer screen creating lies, making up bogus information about products and services. Feel free to be elaborate in how you describe what your company does (a little exaggeration never hurt anyone, did it?) but avoid placing any false information out there. Being honest and open is far more likely to get you good brand recognition, even if there are some initial flaws in your plan.
Ignoring the Customer
The customer is the reason you’ve got a business so looking after them is paramount if you want to maintain your reputation. And whilst the phrase, “The customer’s always right” may be said through gritted teeth sometimes, you should never ignore a customer, no matter how angry or wrong they are. This gives the impression that you don’t care so always respond to any queries in a prompt and professional manner as this will cast your company in a positive light, even if you can’t provide the right solution for the customer all of the time.
In summary; to create a brand, you need to first establish who you are and what you want to achieve. Then you need to propel yourself into your industry, creating valuable content and honest advice, all the while monitoring your brand’s reputation, dealing with any negativity in the appropriate way.