Brand Reputation: Importance, Examples & How to Improve It [2022 Guide]

Building and maintaining a good brand reputation is critical for success in an increasingly online world.

With the internet and social media, in particular, consumers, stakeholders, potential employees, and the general public have access to a vast amount of information about every brand. From online reviews and ratings, social media posts, and influencer reviews, to viral PR nightmares.

The internet has opened brands up for intense and detailed public scrutiny, and brands need to be prepared and equipped to build a good reputation and to protect and manage it effectively.

So, how do you do that, exactly? How do you build a great brand reputation? And how do you measure, monitor, and manage it?

In this guide, we’re covering everything you need to know about brand reputation!

What it is, why it’s important, the advantages of good brand reputation, and examples of good and bad brand reputation.

We then cover how to measure your brand reputation, and how to build and manage a good reputation!

Let’s dive right in!

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    What is Brand Reputation?

    In simple terms, brand reputation refers to how a brand is perceived by the public, customers, competitors, and stakeholders.

    Your brand reputation is the sum of all associations with your brand and comes from how people perceive it, how they interact with it, and what their experiences are.

    The quality of your products and services, customer support, marketing, and public relations, and how you treat your employees all impact your overall brand reputation.

    Good brand reputation signifies that your brand is perceived as credible, trustworthy, and desirable. Your customers feel good about interacting with you and generally feel positive about being associated with you.

    A brand’s reputation is an intangible asset that is critical for success and closely linked to the brand’s value.

    Take a look at this video by London Business Forum on why brand reputation is so important for brands (more on that later too!):

    In the past, brand reputation was largely linked to the quality of the goods or services provided, and customer satisfaction in terms of service and support.

    A brand’s reputation was based on what the public saw of the company through their interactions with it, word of mouth, and the information supplied to the public by the brand itself. As such, it was fairly easy to manage with good public relations and advertising.

    However, the internet and social media have changed the game entirely. People now have access to a wealth of information about every brand at their fingertips. From online reviews and social media to company profiles and information on stakeholders and employees.

    In this digital age, every aspect of your brand is open to scrutiny and every impression of your brand can be spread far and wide in seconds.

    Managing your brand’s reputation and building and maintaining a good brand reputation are critical. It may seem like an impossibly huge task, but with the right strategy and tools, it is much simpler than it seems!

    Summary: What is Brand Reputation?

    • Brand reputation refers to how a brand is perceived by the public, customers, competitors, and stakeholders.
    • Your brand reputation is the sum of all associations with your brand.
    • The quality of your products and services, customer support, marketing, and public relations, and how you treat your employees all impact your overall brand reputation.

    The Importance of Brand Reputation

    Good brand reputation touches on every aspect of your business and offers many advantages:

    1. Improved Trust and Credibility

    Good brand reputation goes hand in hand with trust and credibility. Brands that have a good reputation and are generally perceived in a positive light are also more likely to be given the benefit of the doubt or forgiven for any mishaps (provided they’re handled well, of course!).

    Trust is a key factor, and influences how much people purchase, their loyalty, and whether or not they will advocate for a brand.

    Brands that are trusted and seen as credible are not only more profitable, they’re also more resilient. In times of crisis or economic hardship, customers will always choose to support brands they trust and feel they can rely on.

    Brand Reputation - Graphic from Edelman Trust Barometer Report 2021
    Image Source: Edelman 2021 Trust Barometer Report

    2. Greater Customer Loyalty

    Brands with a good reputation enjoy greater customer loyalty. Customers that feel positive about your brand are customers that will buy and buy again.

    Customer retention and loyalty are closely linked to profitability. It always costs more to acquire a new customer than it does to retain one. A good reputation is essential to retention and loyalty.

    3. Brand Advocacy

    Satisfied customers are hugely valuable as brand ambassadors. They will advocate for you through word of mouth, both in-person and online, generating sales and polishing your image in the process.

    That said, if you have a bad reputation and people are not happy to be associated with you, they will not advocate for you – no matter how great your products and our customer service are!

    4. Higher Sales Revenue

    A good brand reputation results in higher sales and profits for many reasons. Improved trust, customer retention, brand advocacy all lead to more sales.

    A good reputation also allows you to charge a premium for your products and services without deterring customers who see your brand as valuable and desirable.

    5. Attracting Top Talent and Improved Employee Retention

    Desirable brands are desirable to employees as well as the public. Brands with a good reputation have higher employee retention rates and attract better talent.

    When employees are proud to be associated with your brand, they tend to have higher job satisfaction and will stay with you longer.

    When you’re hiring, candidates will research your brand and are less likely to choose brands with a bad reputation. No one wants to be associated with an undesirable brand, least of all employees.

    On the other hand, if you’re offering a competitive package and you have a good reputation, you’re much more likely to land the best talent!

    6. A Competitive Edge

    A good brand reputation is closely linked to high market value. It gives your brand a competitive edge when competing with other brands in your niche.

    Brands with a good reputation are more desirable to investors, customers, and potential employees. This makes them more profitable and more resilient. It also gives them the huge advantage of access to great talent and high caliber skills.

    Brand reputation - graph showing how good brand reputation is closely linked to market value
    Image Source: Cutting Edge PR

    Summary: Benefits of Good Brand Reputation

    1. Improved Trust and Credibility
    2. Greater Customer Loyalty
    3. Brand Advocacy
    4. Higher Sales Revenue
    5. Attracting Top Talent and Improved Employee Retention
    6. A Competitive Edge

    4 Examples of Good and Bad Brand Reputations

    Building a good reputation for your brand takes time. In addition to having a solid foundation of good practices and policies, you need to be genuine and consistently manage your brand’s reputation.

    No brand is flawless and there will inevitably be mishaps, big and small, along the way. It is how you handle those missteps, how you react, and how you do better going forwards that will make or break your reputation in the long run.

    In the age of social media and viral content, any mishap or poorly thought-out advert can reach millions of people in a very short time.

    Let’s take a look at some examples of good and bad brand reputations:

    Two Examples of Bad Brand Reputation

    1. Dove

    Dove, a brand owned by Unilever, went viral in 2017 after it aired an advert for bodywash that featured a black woman who turned into a white woman in the advert. Given that the advert was for soap, the implication was that Dove could ‘wash away her blackness’.

    To say the advert was problematic is an understatement. The backlash soon went viral on social media, and there were more than 30 000 negative posts about the advert in less than a week. The hashtags associated with the posts included #doveisracist and #boycottdove.

    Brand reputation - screenshot from Twitter of the #boycottdove

    This kind of incident can have a massive impact on a brand’s reputation and expose the brand in a negative light to huge numbers of people.

    However, these kinds of viral incidents tend to blow over pretty quickly and within a week or two, the buzz has died down again. Most brands will recover quickly, provided they handle it well, course correct, and avoid any further incidents.

    Brand reputations sustain the most damage when smaller issues go unaddressed and chip away at their image, eroding their reputation. These brands then develop a stigma and a bad reputation that can be very difficult to recover from.

    2. Shein

    A brand that has a consistently bad reputation is Shein, the Chinese fast-fashion giant. They’re universally known for extremely poor quality, inconsistent sizing, stealing other brands’ designs, slow shipping, and non-existent after-sales service.

    A search for ‘Shein reviews’ yields pages and pages of scathing, one-star reviews, and videos and images of cheap, ill-fitting items.

    brand reputation - screenshot of reviews.io and the 2 star rating Shein has from over 1000 reviews

    However, despite their bad reputation, they have grown to be the biggest online-only fast fashion brand. They have done this with a combination of clever marketing and extremely low prices.

    They also add new styles daily and they market aggressively on social media, targeting a young and undiscerning audience preoccupied with overconsumption and keeping up with fast fashion trends.

    As far as bad brand reputations go, Shein is a clear example of how reviews and social media can showcase the worst of a brand. That kind of reputation would be difficult to change and would take years of work to repair.

    If they were in any other niche, their reputation would have killed them before they could even implement any improvements.

    Two Examples of Brands of Good Brand Reputation

    1. Lego

    Lego has an excellent brand reputation. They have long been one of the most well-loved brands, adored by children and adults alike.

    Aside from providing a high-quality product and great customer service, Lego is associated with family, community and innovative, creative and educational play.

    They keep up with changing values and trends, including initiatives to be more inclusive and more sustainable. Lego is consistently seen as a high-value brand, with good ethics and progressive social values.

    Brand reputation - Screenshot of the lego website showing recent blog topics on inclusion, sustainability and brand success

    Over the years, Lego has built a massive following and firmly established itself as a trusted and desirable brand. Their products are seen as valuable and desirable enough that they can charge high prices and still dominate the market.

    2. Patagonia

    Patagonia, an American clothing brand, has built a great brand reputation over the years. They’re known to make high-quality goods and offer excellent after-sales service.

    However, their focus on social responsibility, corporate culture, and environmental sustainability are what set them apart and give them such a good reputation.

    In recent years, issues around climate change, social responsibility, the overconsumption of resources and commodities, and exploitative, unethical labor practices have changed the way brands are viewed by consumers.

    Brand reputation - Screenshot of a post from Patagonia's Instagram about climate change activism

    As a brand that Patagonia has long been outspoken about social and environmental issues. Their values and ethics reflect those of their customers, their employees, and their stakeholders. As such, they are seen as a trusted brand, that really cares.

    Consistency and authenticity are essential for building a good brand reputation!

    How to Measure Brand Reputation

    Measuring brand reputation is the key to monitoring and managing it effectively. To build a good brand reputation, you need to know if you’re being perceived positively or negatively, and why.

    There are many metrics you can use to measure your brand reputation in a way that is meaningful and will help you adjust and fine-tune your brand to build a good reputation.

    These will vary depending on factors like how well established your brand is, your location, and the nature of your business.

    When selecting the metrics to use to measure brand reputation, consider which metrics will best inform your understanding of the following:

    • How well-known is your brand online? Do you have a strong following on social media, and does information on your brand come up readily in search results?
    • Are people talking about you? What are they saying and where are they saying it?
    • What type of content comes up when someone searches your brand online? Is that content beneficial, neutral, or harmful to your brand?
    • What is the underlying sentiment behind the perception of your brand? Do your customers and potential customers view their interactions with you in a positive, neutral, or negative light?
    • How does your brand reputation compare to your closest competitors? What are they excelling at and how can you improve your brand with that in mind?

    Answering these questions will give you a baseline – an idea of where you stand, and what you need to understand better to strengthen your brand reputation.

    Brand reputation is complex and the culmination of many factors. Measuring brand reputation is an ongoing process, which needs to be built into the processes you use to track your marketing and overall business strategies.

    Let’s take a look at some of the metrics you can use:

    Measuring Brand Reputation – Metrics to Use

    The objective of measuring brand reputation, on an ongoing basis, is to keep your finger on the pulse. To understand how your brand is perceived, what influences that, and where you need to intervene.

    Monitoring and actively listening to what people say about you, and when and why they say it, allows you to:

    • Address any issues that arise quickly and appropriately: Knowing that there is an issue before it goes viral, and understanding the reason behind the sentiment is the key to effectively addressing the issue at hand.
    • Understand where your strengths are: Knowing which aspects of your brand are perceived favorably allows you to strengthen and maintain those areas, and which direction to choose when course correction is needed.

    Here are some useful indicators and metrics for measuring brand reputation:

    • Sentiment analysis
    • Social mentions
    • Customer satisfaction
    • Local search ranking
    • Google page ranking
    • Number of repeat website visitors
    • Online reviews and ratings (quality and quantity)
    • Social media reach and engagement
    • Share of voice
    • Subscriptions and bookmarks
    • Conversion metrics

    Analyzing these areas of your business will give you valuable insight into how strong your brand reputation is.

    Sentiment Analysis is one of the most useful metrics to use, as it gives you a clear snapshot of how you’re perceived by your audience overall.

    brand reputation - Sentiment Analysis Graph showing percentages of positive, neutral and negative sentiment

    These metrics can be tracked to see how different interventions impact your brand and your overall brand reputation.

    Summary: Metrics Used to Measure Brand Reputation

    • Sentiment analysis
    • Social mentions
    • Customer satisfaction
    • Local search ranking
    • Google page ranking
    • Number of repeat website visitors
    • Online reviews and ratings (quality and quantity)
    • Social media reach and engagement
    • Share of voice
    • Subscriptions and bookmarks
    • Conversion metrics

    7 Steps to Build a Good Brand Reputation

    1. Monitor and be Proactive

    Take a proactive approach, and respond quickly and appropriately to any missteps. If brands are quick to intervene and offer appropriate solutions, they can avoid a small misstep becoming a major PR headache.

    Responding to critical reviews, comments, and social media posts quickly will not only solve the problem in question, but it will also demonstrate to your audience that you’re genuinely committed to hearing their concerns and making changes.

    There are many great tools, like Google Alerts, Sprout Social, Buzzsumo, Brand24, and MediaToolkit that you can use to monitor reviews, ratings, and social mentions.

    Brand Reputation - Graph of Mentions over time from Mediatoolkit
    Image Source: Mediatoolkit

    2. Manage Expectations and Be Unambiguous

    Under-promise and over-deliver, always. Customer satisfaction is everything when every customer can reach thousands of people with a single angry tweet or negative review.

    Set realistic expectations and be as clear as possible about every aspect of your business that can potentially disappoint or frustrate your customer.

    Things like delivery times and returns processes should be as specific and clear as possible to avoid any confusion and frustration.

    When your customers know exactly what to expect and they get it, they’re satisfied. When they get more than they were expecting, they’re delighted!

    3. Be Authentic and Consistent

    Authenticity is hugely important for your brand reputation. When you’re authentic, the way you portray yourself and the way you behave are aligned, which makes you more trustworthy and reliable. For brands, this is critical.

    Make sure that your brand values translate into your operational practices and that everything you do lines up with how you present yourself to the public.

    Your brand is constantly being evaluated and judged online. Discrepancies between what you say and what you do will be noticed, and they will be pointed out.

    Consistency is also key – your reputation is made by the small things you do consistently, rather than the big things you do occasionally.

    Thankfully, this works both ways and your reputation will survive the occasional crisis, as long as you have a good, consistent track record.

    4. Keep Your Promises and Follow Through

    To build a good brand reputation, you need to deliver on your promises. Nothing will tarnish your image quicker than misleading your customers or failing to deliver on your promises.

    Provide great customer service, before and after-sales. Be quick, honest, and efficient. And follow through. The importance of following through cannot be stressed enough!

    Set up systems that let you keep track of customer support and make sure that there is continuity for every query and that the customer is kept in the loop.

    Even if it takes days to resolve a problem, letting them know that you’re working on it goes a long way to reducing any frustration.

    It is critical that your marketing messaging, product claims and service delivery promises are truthful and realistic. According to Digimind, 80% of reputation damage risks come from a mismatch between the buzz and the reality.

    Brand Reputation - Image text says: 80% of reputation damage risks come from a mismatch between the buzz and the reality (digimind)

    5. Actively Collect Customer Feedback and Reviews

    Asking your customers for honest feedback is one of the best ways to find out exactly what your audience likes and dislikes about your brand.

    The real-world feedback and information you gather from reviews and customer feedback provide incredibly valuable insights into how your brand is perceived and why. These insights show you what you need to fix or change, and what you need to do more of.

    Brands that actively solicit feedback and gather reviews also benefit from improved customer experience and satisfaction because customers feel valued and heard when you ask them for their opinions, especially if you take action and improve things based on what they had to say!

    Depending on your brand and the type of business you have, you can use various social proof apps and software to gather feedback from your customers. These solutions can provide you with everything from simple surveys to a detailed analysis of your NPS and customer satisfaction scores.

    6. Demonstrate a Commitment to Sustainability and Social Responsibility

    The vast amount of information about every brand that is available online gives consumers the ability to be more discerning about the brands they choose.

    Commitments to social responsibility and environmental sustainability have become important factors in how brands are perceived, and it is essential brands are transparent and make their position on these issues known.

    7. Use the Right Tools to Manage Your Brand Reputation Online

    As you have seen, managing your brand reputation is an ongoing, complicated, and time-consuming endeavor. Thankfully, there are tools you can use that will streamline and simplify the process for you!

    Brand reputation management tools can help you manage every aspect of your brand’s online presence. From tracking brand mentions, reviews, and visual user-generated content, and the sentiment behind them, to tracking and analyzing metrics like your NPS/customer satisfaction scores.

    These tools can provide detailed, actionable insights and can be customized to meet your unique brand requirements.

    Using tools to monitor and manage your online reputation is the best way to keep your finger on the pulse, and keep driving your brand’s reputation in the right direction.

    Summary: 7 Steps to Build a Good Brand Reputation

    1. Monitor and be Proactive

    2. Manage Expectations and Be Unambiguous

    3. Be Authentic and Consistent

    4. Keep Your Promises and Follow Through

    5. Actively Collect Customer Feedback and Reviews

    6. Demonstrate a Commitment to Sustainability and Social Responsibility

    7. Use the Right Tools to Manage Your Brand Reputation Online

    Final Thoughts

    Consistently monitoring and managing your brand’s reputation online is critical for success.

    Brands with a good reputation are more valuable, more profitable, and more resilient. They also attract top talent and have higher employee retention rates.

    All in all, building a good brand reputation is essential and gives your brand the competitive edge needed to succeed!

    Frequently Asked Questions

    What is brand reputation?

    Brand reputation refers to how a brand is perceived by the public, customers, competitors, and stakeholders.
    It is the sum of all associations with your brand and comes from how people perceive it, how they interact with it, and what their experiences are using a brand's products or services. Check the full guide for more on what brand reputation is.

    What does good brand reputation mean?

    Good brand reputation signifies that a brand is perceived as credible, trustworthy, and desirable. It's customers feel good about interacting with it and feel positive about being associated with it. A brand’s good reputation is an intangible asset that is critical for success and closely linked to the brand’s value. Check the full guide for more on good brand reputation and the importance of building it.

    What are the advantages of a good brand reputation?

    A good brand reputation is critical for success and offers many advantages:
    - Improved Trust and Credibility
    - Higher Customer Loyalty
    - Greater Brand Advocacy
    - Higher Sales Revenue
    - Attracting Top Talent and Improved Employee Retention
    - A Competitive Edge and Higher Market Value
    Check the full guide for more detailed info on each of these benefits of having a good brand reputation.

    References

    Edelman: Trust, The New Brand Equity

    GWI: Brand Reputation: Why Measurement Matters

    Harvard Business Review: Reputation and Its Risks

    Huffpost: 5 Tips to Avoid Setting the Internet on Fire

    MDPI: Journal – Sustainability:  The Role of Corporate Social Responsibility Perceptions in Brand Equity, Brand Credibility, Brand Reputation, and Purchase Intentions (PDF)

    Mediatoolkit: How Dove’s Reputation Crisis Unravelled on Social Media

    RepTrak: Global RepTrak 2021 Report

    Reputation X: 2021 Online Reputation Management Statistics

    Review Trackers: How to Measure Reputation and Track Reputation Metrics

    Statista: Online reviews – Statistics & Facts

    Status Labs: 77 Online Reputation Statistics for 2021