Although they are very similar and definitely linked, brand and reputation are not the same thing. Increasingly, however, the two are getting confused. The problem could be down to the intangible nature of the two concepts and the fact that they both share many of the same approaches and goals.
In fact, a brand serves to generate differentiation and increase desire, hopefully motivating target markets to invest in a product or service. Reputation, on the other hand, is the brand’s track record. This means the brand must be built (proactive) and the reputation must be protected (defensive). Both concepts are important, and damaging one can easily have an effect on the other.
Social media Input
In an ideal world, a strong reputation is the foundation upon which you build a business and its brand. However, partly as a result of the social media boom, brands are often being judged on their back office functions – how they are run, who endorses them and their supply chains. It has become much more difficult to see the difference.
The problem is that focusing on one over the other could be detrimental. Therefore, a balance must be achieved. Marketers must now educate senior colleagues, changing the belief that the brand is an outsider impression of an organisation. They need to understand instead that the brand is an expression of business strategy. Similarly, reputation needs to be repositioned as an acknowledgement of the company’s past strengths (or weaknesses) and not marketing. For those organisations that continue to find the two concepts confusing, enlisting the help of a brand and strategy innovation agency can help, such as www.lightbulbinnovation.com/.
Although it sounds complex, this process does not have to be difficult. Instead, it can be achieved in just five steps. The first three are the identification of key brand attributes, key reposition attributes and key stakeholders. Next, surveys should be used to monitor these attribute ratings to identify, understand and overcome threats to both brand and reputation. Finally, in order to show how a brand and reputation are separate but still impact each other, tease out the different correlations. For example, think about how the brand is affected when a stakeholder says or does a certain thing, and then think about how this might affect the company’s reputation.