Identity, image, reputation - confusing one for the other can be harmful to your overall branding strategy. Though equally important, these aspects of a brand are not entirely the same. Each requires a management tactic of its own, and each deserves your undivided attention.
By definition, brand reputation
is the "entirety of the public's opinion about a company's corporate actions". It's what shapes your customers' stance and helps them determine whether or not you can be trusted with their money, time and energy. While an image can be manipulated, reputation cannot. A favourable and publicly recognised name needs to be built carefully and patiently. It depends on your company culture, quality of your offerings and interactions you make with the receiving end.
But also, it depends on your ability to avoid common pitfalls and frequent mistakes that can ruin your renown for good.
1. Building a Website That Doesn't Meet Customers' Needs
Digital branding is all about positive online presence
. It is usually established through content marketing and social media campaigns, but only after being founded on a presentable website first. Consequently, a bad website is the biggest, most detrimental branding mistake you can make.
Let's examine this from a customer's viewpoint. When in need of a solution, be that a product or a service, a prospect asks Google for help. Their search engine leads them directly to your website, where he or she should be able to acquire information about your offering and eventually solve their problem in real time.
Alternatively, they may learn about your company from a friend or stumble upon your ad on social media. In both cases, they will go straight to your landing page and start browsing for solutions. It's up to your branding experts and website developers to keep them from bouncing.
A good business website
is the one that's entirely in compliance with the customers' needs. In terms of engagement, this implies an appealing design and relevant, high-quality content. Convenience is the second important factor, and it suggests effortless navigation across different devices, seamless payment process and efficient on-site customer support.
Finally, a reputable brand's website is trustworthy. This means that you'll need to provide social proof for your claims, employ transparency and offer customer feedback, positive and negative alike.
2. Ignoring Negative Feedback
Speaking of which, brand reputation heavily relies on customer opinion. Since these two are inseparable, you'll need to listen to online conversations about your brand and build your entire strategy around that. This, however, means that you might hear something you don't like.
Ignoring negative feedback is never helpful. When constructive, every criticism is your chance to learn, identify mistakes and grow from them. If you consciously choose to turn a blind eye to your customers' complaints, your company will never improve.
Not only will your disappointed clients lose trust in your brand and turn to your competitors, but shushing them will raise suspicion in your satisfied customers as well. Understand that bad news travels fast, especially in today's digital age.
Modern customers are much savvier, so don't underestimate them. If you publish nothing but positive reviews on your website, they will take it as a signal of dishonesty. Your churn rate will increase quickly, in inverse proportion to your chances to grow.
3. Failing to Provide Consistent Information
If you're aiming to build a reputation in the online environment, you can't afford to overlook social media. Today's branding is a combination of professionalism and spontaneity, reflected in a widely used "behind the scenes" tactic. Being a great opportunity to interact with your customers in a less formal way, social media networking is critical for achieving your goal.
Still, that's only one side of the omnichannel approach
. In order to broaden your horizons and reach out to customers across both online and offline environments, you'll need to cover all the platforms that they use, including social media, mobile apps and telephony. If you think that might be a tricky deal, consider this: the more channels you use, the bigger the risk of inconsistency is.
As a brand, you have to convey a clear message of your core values and provide useful information to all of your customers. When you communicate with them via multiple channels, the message and information you deliver might lose their consistency. You can't copy/paste them from one channel to another, but you can manage them all from a centralised platform.
That's why open channel CRMs like Bitrix24
are vital to building brand reputation. They allow you to communicate with customers through social media, instant messaging apps and telephony, without any risk of providing inconsistent information. Miscommunication between a company and a customer leads to bad reputation and sales funnel attrition, so be wise about it.
4. Making Promises You CanвЂ™t Keep
The line between effective marketing and false advertising is very thin. Whether you cross it or not depends on the promises you make and keep. If you fail to resist the temptation to over-promise, never make the mistake of under-delivering. That's another important rule in business and the one that your reputation hinges on.
What happens if you break it is quite easy to guess. Without any doubt, your customers will be very disappointed, frustrated and angry, and it's highly unlikely that they'll be investing their time and money in your company anytime soon.
Also, 82% of Americans
seek recommendations from family and friends when considering a purchase. When it comes to word-of-mouth marketing, remember that dissatisfied customers are always quicker to share their negative experience with others than satisfied customers. If you don't keep a promise given to a single customer, dozens of others may leave too.
5. Mistreating Your Staff
The same applies to annoyed employees. Focusing on customers is imperative for success, but that doesn't mean you should mistreat your staff in the process. While employee satisfaction organically nurtures brand ambassadors, discontented workers are even more vocal in their complaints than disappointed customers are.
Such mistake can cost you more than you think. You'll lose a hard-working employee, trigger a disturbance in the office dynamic, decrease productivity, hurt your company culture and probably be publicly stamped for your wrongdoings. Ultimately, your customers will hear about it too and start losing confidence in your brand.
When positive, brand reputation builds loyalty, increases customer satisfaction and assures growth. Even the slightest mistake can regress your branding efforts, if not rob you of your hard-earned name altogether. It takes years to build a reputation and minutes to ruin it, so stay cautious.
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