Brand and reputation are intimately linked but they are not the same thing. The danger in confusing the two things is that they work differently while being co-dependent. Essentially, branding is proactive, functioning to generate desire, to motivate people to buy from you, and into you. It helps differentiate you in the marketplace.
Reputation, on the other hand, is defensive, something you protect – your accumulated actions and statements.
Ideally, a business builds a brand on the back of a strong reputation. However, the overlap between brand and reputation can make this arrangement more complex.
Brands can be judged on what goes on behind the scenes as much as front of house. There can be ethical issues like supply chains and what wages they pay which end up dominating the front pages and news broadcasts.”
Social media has contributed to this significantly, to the extent where brand and company are one and the same in the public’s perception.
If your brand is under-powered then you can end up being neither liked nor trusted despite your market presence. Or be liked and trusted, but not widely recognised.
The danger is that companies then switch their focus to reputation at the expense of their brand, and how it should function to attract more business.
The key is in how businesses themselves perceive how branding should work for them.
How Should Branding Work?
There’s a difference between using a brand to create an impression and using it to express yourself.
What this means is that a brand should work as part of a strategic approach to growth, a day to day responsibility, fully integrated into an organisation’s thinking.
Your business should be constantly driving its brand, looking outwards rather than focusing inwardly on its reputation. Don’t market your reputation, market your brand.
This can involve outsourcing work to a brand specialist. It could also mean working very closely with design professionals, so that there is a clear understanding of the correlation between brand and reputation – how a brand enhances a company’s reputation, and the impact reputation can have on a brand.
Branding cannot be, and shouldn’t be, separate from business. It is integral to business success.
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