Reputation management used to be easy. Brands would put out press releases, pay for a strategic ad slot, sponsor one or two notable causes, and reap the rewards — bit simplistic, we know, but you get the point. But nowadays your brand’s online reputation can be forever defined by a single blog post, newsletter, or Tweet. Turns out your caffeine-addicted intern can have a greater influence than your CEO on how your brand is perceived.
It takes as little as a poorly timed joke, a failed video challenge, or a poor online review for your audience to see your brand as, at best, ineffective and, at worst, problematic.
So if you want to stay ahead and accurately convey the value of your brand to your audiences and stakeholders, you need solid online brand reputation management. We’re going to take you through a step-by-step process on how to achieve just that.
Suggested reading: For practical tips on consistent brand management, check out our Brand Consistency Toolkit.
Step 1. Gain consistent control over your brand assets
Because it can’t be emphasised enough in our wonderful world of branding, let’s reiterate: brand consistency is key. That’s because your brand assets (the images, logos, videos, graphics, etc. that make up your brand) have a powerful impact on how the public perceives you, and how effective that impact is comes from how CONSISTENT it is.
Brand consistency helps you build an identity that’s easy to remember. Constructing a consistent narrative around your brand helps your target audience understand your story and what you stand for, so they can connect to your messages on an emotional level.
There are two aspects to think of if you want to create brand consistency:
- The fundamentals: If your brand were a car, this would be its engine. These are the underlying aspects that make your brand what it is, like your workflows, processes, and other internal communications, to push the entire thing forward.
- The details: This would be your car’s doors, windows, rearview mirror, you name it. It’s what most people think of when you ask them about brands: colours, logos, images, writing style, tone of voice, etc.
Both aspects are important to a car, of course, but what’s crucial is that it’s their combination that helps you drive from one point to another. Similarly, the details of brand consistency help you communicate your core identity and values in a memorable way, while enabling your audience to actually see that in your end results.
Tools like brand management software help you gain control over your brand’s fundamentals so you can stay consistent with your brand reputation from the get go. You can:
- Create a database so you can store all your digital files (the ideal software tool will have a digital asset management system within its stack to see this through!)
- Enable you to set permissions, controlling the number of people who have access to different digital resources.
- Provide access to brand guidelines and editable templates, so you can make sure that all your messages follow your reputation management strategy.
As fun as all those benefits sound across the board, they’re especially crucial to always getting your brand reputation at the top of its game. Get your fundamentals and details working together, and the intern is less likely to post an MS Office mock-up for your latest campaign launch.
Step 2. Improve internal brand communication and tracking
Branding is a company-wide effort. Your values and identity matter, but only if they’re reflected in your team’s work. Unfortunately, studies show that only 27% of employees believe in the values of the company they work for.
You should encourage all your employees to become familiar with your brand’s value, message, and story. When your team is not driven by a common sense of identity, employees may end up working at cross-purposes. When your team embraces your vision, they are more likely to offer a consistent customer experience.
Branding starts INSIDE your company, but sometimes it’s difficult to make your internal brand messages heard. Your employees are already busy with their jobs and the messages can get lost in the never-ending flow of daily emails.
Think about it: how can you keep up a brand reputation that’s consistent — let alone positive — to the world if you can’t keep it up on the inside? Remember that when everyone is signing off the same hymn sheet, there’s less chance of a bum note that can lead to real external damage.
👉 Improve your internal communication with tips from The Brand Management Handbook today! 👈
Step 3. Ensure a plan for global and regional branding
Taking your brand to a global level can feel as pleasant as dancing in a new pair of shoes. You feel the rhythm and know the moves, but you may need a bit of time to break into them. That’s because expanding to new regional markets comes with its own set of challenges, such as:
- Language barriers: Language is one of the biggest obstacles for international brands. Your finely-tuned message might feel bland in a new market due to the different linguistic nuances, semantics, dialects, and idioms.
- Cultural differences: Images, colours, symbols, and many of the other digital resources you use can have very different meanings to foreign cultures. If you want to make your global brand remarkable, you have to tailor your digital resources to the local culture.
- Communication and collaboration blocks: International teams are great for global brands because they have an in-depth knowledge of the local culture, regulations, etc. However, one of the challenges of building an international team is that your employees don’t have the luxury of communicating in person and getting to know one another, which can lead to trust issues and other problems.
- Availability of digital resources: Time zone and hardware differences can make the availability of digital resources a problem, even if you use cloud-based solutions. Your team has to know where to find the resources and how to best use them in order to enhance your online reputation.
Though making sure that your brand’s reputation is primed to be at its best across all possible regional markets sounds like a given, it can be complicated to do. Rather than reconstructing your brand playbook in different languages and tailoring it every time you expand, one simple solution is to use brand management software. Tools like Brandworkz can help in providing your team members examples of successful work which can be reused in different markets and the ability to switch between languages so that you don’t accidentally offend nor exclude your international customers.
Suggested reading: Learn more about the best branding practices for global expansion with our blog 6 Challenges of Global Brand Management Solved.
Step 4. Monitor and respond to comments on your reputation
Brand reputation management is a continuous process. You have to be aware of how the public perceives your business at all times. This means monitoring your offline and online presence in mainstream media, search engines, social media, review sites, and all the other channels you use.
Tracking and measuring your audience’s perception should be a crucial step in your branding strategy because it helps you determine whether you’re meeting your goals or not. It also helps you:
- Respond to negative comments or reviews.
- Highlight positive reviews or star ratings.
- Answer questions and provide additional information to your potential customers.
- Build a relationship with your prospects and customers.
Monitoring your online presence also helps you collect customer feedback, which is very important in branding and marketing. Ask anyone who opened a marketing book about the importance of feedback, and you’ll probably get an answer like “We all need people who will give us feedback. That’s how we improve.” (originally by Bill Gates) or “Feedback is the breakfast of champions.” (originally by Ken Blanchard).
Now, we don’t know how some people manage to spread feedback on toast, but feedback IS important. Customer feedback shows you whether different aspects of your business are working or whether you should improve them. Even a negative review can be a valuable resource in the long run because it gives you the opportunity to become better.
Combing through hundreds of search results, dozens of social media comments and tens of online reviews is tedious work. Your team can do this manually, of course, but you can simplify and speed up the process with the help of listening tools like HubSpot. As a pro tip, look for a brand management software solution that can integrate with an array of tools, so that your martech stack is as streamlined as possible.
Brand reputation management starts with your branding
While enhancing your online brand reputation might seem difficult when you read about it on a screen, it’s actually simple if you implement the steps we outlined in your brand management strategy.
Branding starts inside the company, so your customer-facing employees should understand your values and your mission. By improving your internal communication and implementing brand guidelines, you can ensure that your team’s efforts will be consistent even when you expand to new markets.
Brand management software like Brandworkz helps you enhance your online reputation with automation, guidelines, templates, and communication. Don’t take our word for it. Book a free demo and see for yourself how Brandworkz makes brand reputation management easy.