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Whether it's McDonald’s McRib’s NFT project’s dysfunctional product launch or Mars Wrigley’s green M&M mishap, the rise and rise of social media means a public relations crisis can damage a brand’s reputation significantly. 

However, brands can steer the narrative with the right strategies. But that requires updating your branding management toolkit.

We’ll discuss tried and true brand reputation strategies, challenges marketers face, and how to best measure and monitor reputation across platforms. Now, let’s reclaim control of your story!

What is Brand Reputation, and Why Should You Care?

Brand reputation is the commonly held opinion the public shares about your brand.

In an ideal world, brands are judged solely on ethical actions and product quality. But reality proves more complex. A single misstep (sometimes perceived) can ignite public outrage; even false rumors can spread quickly to corrupt.

Perceptions profoundly impact bottom lines. Don't believe me? Check out these stats:

  • About 75% of purchase decisions hinge on word-of-mouth (Ogilvy, Google, & TNS, 2014).
  • 92% of B2B buyers consult reviews before closing the deal (G2 B2B Sales & Marketing Report, 2018).
  • A 5% increase in brand reputation can increase revenue by 2.5% for the average S&P 500 company (World Economics Journal, 2013).

Plus, candidates also now vet workplace culture, with most shunning companies with negative perceptions.

Many factors impact your brand reputation, including but not limited to:

  • Service and product utility
  • Customer interaction quality
  • Promoted values in messaging or actions
  • Crisis or mistake response
  • Employee public conduct
  • Workplace conditions
  • Creative marketing content
  • Social media presence

The good news? Proactive reputation management allows you to steer the narrative. Here are some examples. 

Case Study: Brand Reputation Wins and Fails in B2B SaaS

HubSpot's Triumph:

HubSpot excels in managing its brand reputation. The business has built a broad range of owned media programs, positioning itself as an industry expert.

This has led to hundreds of thousands of paying customers, millions of site visitors, and a consistent brand presence as the product has evolved.

Key Lessons:

  • Diversify owned media for comprehensive brand presence.
  • Expert positioning fuels trust and conversions.
  • Consistent branding ensures long-term brand equity.

AvidXchange's Cautionary Tale:

AvidXchange projected rapid growth and an imminent IPO, but internal dissent over alleged inflated data led to a swift fallout. Abrupt executive decisions, plummeting morale, and customer wariness show how fragile trust can be.

Key Lessons:

  • Avoid exaggeration to prevent internal dissent.
  • Abrupt decisions impact workplace morale and external perception.
  • Vigilant reputation management is crucial.

6 Tried and True Brand Reputation Management Strategies

So, you ready to manage your brand reputation. What are some tried and true industry strategies that help you succeed? Lucky for you, I did the digging and found the top strategies marketers use to build and maintain a positive brand perception.

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Strategy #1: Get Clear with Your Values

Angelic Vendette, CMO at Ave Advisory gives us this strategy, “Building a trustworthy brand begins with utmost clarity in terms of the values, reason for being and mission and purpose.” 

This not only serves as a foundation for consistent messaging but also fosters a sense of authenticity and transparency, which are paramount for building trust with consumers. 

How to achieve clarity in brand values

  • Have leadership reflect on their values: Begin by having leaders and key stakeholders reflect on their personal values and how these align with the business.
  • Gather stakeholder input: Collect input from employees, customers, and other stakeholders. Surveys, interviews, and focus groups can provide valuable insights into the values that are important to different groups.
  • Identify your core principles: Work to identify a set of core principles or beliefs that various stakeholders across the organization agree on. These could include integrity, innovation, customer focus, social responsibility, etc.
  • Create a values statement: Once the values are identified, create a clear and concise values statement. This statement should articulate the core principles that guide decision-making and behavior within the organization.
  • Run regular reviews: Periodically review and reassess the values to ensure they remain relevant and aligned with the evolving needs of the business and its stakeholders.

A brand that communicates its values and purpose with clarity distinguishes itself from competitors and establishes a lasting connection with its audience. This contributes to an enduring and positive brand identity.

Strategy #2: Stay Consistent in Your Communication

Ruth Ann of Rose Marketing explains, “Consistency with your target audiences is the key component of successful branding.” This consistency not only reinforces the brand's image but also instills confidence and familiarity among target audiences.

How to keep brand communication consistent

  • Develop a brand style guide: Create a comprehensive brand style guide that outlines guidelines for logo usage, color schemes, typography, tone of voice, and other visual and verbal elements. This document serves as a reference for everyone involved in creating content and can include templates for newsletters, social media posts, or press releases. There are various marketing resources for learning how to put together a brand style guide.
  • Understand your target audience: Have a deep understanding of your target audience's preferences, values, and communication preferences. Tailor your messages to resonate with their interests and needs.
  • Define your brand personality: Clearly define your brand's personality traits. Is your brand playful, serious, professional, or friendly? Ensure that these traits are consistently reflected in all communications.
  • Create unified messaging: Ensure your brand messages are aligned across different channels. Whether it's your website, social media, advertisements, or customer support, the messaging should be cohesive and convey a unified brand story.
  • Develop a consistent customer experience: Align your brand marketing programs with the overall customer experience. The way customers interact with your brand, from the website to customer support, should reflect the same values and messaging.

When a brand consistently aligns its messaging, values, and visual elements with the expectations of its audience, it creates a reliable and memorable identity.

This reliability, in turn, establishes a sense of trust, loyalty, and recognition, all vital elements in the construction of a robust and enduring brand identity. 

Strategy #3: Practice Social Listening

Social listening is when you monitor social media for mentions of your brand, competitor brands, and related keywords. You're able to track sentiment in real-time, so you can know ASAP if there's a shift in how much people talk about you or the mood behind what they say.

It can also help you identify emerging trends and promptly address issues or concerns.

According to Statista, 36 percent of customers in the U.S. cite “great customer service” as a motivation to recommend a brand online. Making it 100% worth using social listening to see how your brand is perceived!

How can your business practice social listening?

  • Set clear objectives: Define specific goals for your social listening efforts. Are you monitoring brand mentions, tracking industry trends, or understanding customer sentiment? 
  • Choose the right tools: Use social listening tools to monitor and analyze online conversations. Some popular tools include Hootsuite, Brandwatch, Mention, and Emplifi. These tools can help track brand mentions, keywords, and sentiment across various social media platforms.
  • Identify relevant keywords and hashtags: What keywords, hashtags, and phrases are relevant to your brand, products, and industry? These are the terms you'll monitor to gather insights from online conversations.
  • Monitor multiple platforms: Social listening isn't limited to one platform. Monitor conversations on major social media platforms like X (formerly Twitter), Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, as well as blogs, top articles, and review sites relevant to your industry.
  • Determine audience sentiment: Analyze the sentiment behind social media mentions. Are people expressing positive, negative, or neutral opinions? Understanding sentiment helps you gauge the overall perception of your brand.
  • Analyze and act on these insights: Regularly analyze the data gathered through social listening. Use these insights to inform marketing strategies, product development, customer service improvements, and other business decisions.
  • Measure and adjust: Use key performance indicators (KPIs) to measure the impact of your social listening efforts. Adjust your strategy based on the insights gained and the goals you've set.

By leveraging these insights, businesses can adapt their strategies, engage with their audience effectively, and mitigate potential reputational risks. In essence, social listening serves as an indispensable tool for brands to actively shape and safeguard their reputation.

Strategy #4: Be Responsive to Consumers

Spotify's strategic use of Twitter exemplifies the significance of responsiveness in cultivating a strong brand identity. 

By dedicating an entire Twitter presence to customer engagement through the handle @SpotifyCares, the music streaming giant demonstrates a commitment to actively addressing user inquiries and concerns. Beyond mere issue resolution, Spotify takes the initiative to share daily tips, tricks, and feature updates, showcasing a proactive approach to user interaction. 

How can your business be more responsive to customers?

  • Implement multi-channel support: Offer customer support through various channels such as email, live chat, phone, and social media. Provide options that align with your customers' preferences, allowing them to choose the most convenient communication method.
  • Use automation responsibly: Use automation tools like email marketing automation for routine tasks and responses, but ensure they are complemented with a human touch. Automation can streamline processes, but personalized interactions are crucial for building a connection with customers.
  • Train customer support teams: Invest in training for your customer support teams. Ensure they have the necessary product knowledge, communication skills, and problem-solving abilities to handle a variety of customer inquiries effectively.
  • Implement customer feedback loops: Establish mechanisms for collecting and analyzing customer feedback. Use surveys, reviews, and social media comments to understand customer sentiments, identify pain points, and make necessary improvements.
  • Use Customer Relationship Management (CRM) systems: Implement CRM systems to keep track of customer interactions and preferences. This allows your team to provide more personalized and context-aware responses.
  • Regularly review and update policies: Periodically review and update customer service policies to adapt to changing customer needs and industry trends. Flexibility is key to remaining responsive to evolving expectations.

This sort of consistent engagement enhances customer satisfaction and fosters a sense of community and loyalty among its followers. 

In the digital age, where consumer interactions unfold in real-time across various platforms, examples such as Spotify's attentive and informative X (formerly Twitter) presence contributes significantly to shaping a positive and approachable brand identity, solidifying its position as a customer-centric and technologically savvy brand.

Strategy #5: Share User-Generated Content (UGC)

Sharing user-generated content is instrumental in cultivating a robust brand identity as it fosters a sense of community, authenticity, and trust. When a brand showcases content created by its users, it demonstrates a genuine connection with its audience and acknowledges their contributions.

Sugar Factory is a brand that does this and has since become known as one of the most Instagrammed restaurants in America! Sugar Factory’s partner Tom Recine explains, “Pretty much every single table will have their camera out because they see something they think is fantastic.” User-generated content serves as social proof, illustrating real experiences and positive interactions with the brand. 

How to share UGC successfully

  • Obtain permission: Always obtain explicit permission from the content creator before sharing their UGC. This can be done through direct messages, comments, or a dedicated platform where users submit content. Don’t forget to clearly communicate the terms under which users' content may be shared and always give credit to the original creator.
  • Create a hashtag campaign: Encourage users to share content with a branded hashtag. This not only makes it easier for you to find UGC but also allows users to see their content alongside others who have shared similar experiences.
  • Curate and moderate content: Curate the UGC to ensure it aligns with your brand image and values. Moderate the content to filter out anything inappropriate or off-brand. Highlight content that reflects positively on your brand and resonates with your audience.
  • Share across platforms: Share UGC across various platforms to maximize its reach. Repurpose content for different channels, such as social media, email newsletters, or your website, ensuring it's adapted for each platform's format.
  • Promote diversity and inclusivity: Ensure that the UGC you share reflects diversity and inclusivity. Showcase a variety of perspectives, backgrounds, and experiences to create a more inclusive and representative brand image.
  • Monitor and analyze performance: Track the performance of shared UGC by analyzing metrics such as engagement, reach, and conversions. Use insights to refine your UGC strategy and identify what resonates most with your audience.

This builds trust among potential customers who may be influenced by the authentic perspectives of their peers. This approach helps in creating a relatable brand identity that resonates with a broader audience, ultimately strengthening the brand's presence and loyalty.

Strategy #6: Lighten the mood!

Bri Reynolds, a Social Media Manager at Lyft thinks brands can lighten up and be funny! “If Google can meme, so can your brand. Humor personifies a brand, makes your audience feel seen, and is (most of the time) more memorable than other emotions you try to hit with traditional advertising. Funny connects with all ages.” 

Humor has the power to humanize a brand, making it more approachable and fostering a connection with the audience. 

In the cluttered landscape of advertising, a touch of humor can set a brand apart, capturing attention and leaving a lasting impression. Additionally, humor is a universal language that transcends demographics, allowing brands to appeal to a broad and diverse audience. 

How can your brand use humor?

  • Know your audience: Understand your target audience's preferences, values, and sense of humor. What may be funny to one demographic might not resonate with another. Tailor your humor to your specific audience and make sure it aligns with your brand values and identity.
  • Leverage pop culture: Incorporate references to current events, pop culture, or trending topics when relevant. This shows that your brand is current and engaged with the world around it.
  • Be authentic: Embrace authenticity, avoiding forced jokes or humor styles that feel unnatural for your brand. Authenticity builds trust with your audience.
  • Leverage visual and interactive elements: Use visual elements like memes and GIFs to capture attention, and consider interactive campaigns that encourage audience participation with a touch of humor.
  • Learn and adapt: Analyze both successful and unsuccessful attempts at humor, learning from audience reactions. Regularly reassess your strategies and adapt your approach based on feedback to maintain a positive brand image.

Challenges Marketing Leaders Face with Brand Reputation Management

Brand reputation management can be a challenging. Here are some of the most common issues marketing leaders have to navigate and how they sidestep them. 

Getting Buy-in From Leadership

In times where financial considerations weigh heavily on decision-making, persuading leadership to allocate resources to reputation management becomes more complex. 

Experienced marketers address this challenge by emphasizing the long-term benefits of a strong brand reputation. They underscore how a positive brand image can insulate the company from market fluctuations, attract and retain customers. And contribute to sustained profitability. 

Additionally, successful leaders leverage data-driven insights and case studies that demonstrate a direct correlation between brand reputation and financial performance, illustrating that investments in reputation management are a proactive measure to mitigate potential risks and uncertainties. 

This way, industry leaders not only overcome the challenge of securing buy-in but also position brand reputation management as a strategic imperative in a financially volatile landscape.

Maintaining a strong brand reputation in the face of market uncertainties and changing trends demands agility and foresight from industry leaders. Seismic Executive Vice President of Global Operations Toby Carrington says it best:

“Organizations should look at what they can actually do. We can’t exactly control inflation. What we can control is that we execute getting our own house in as good of shape as possible. For example, amazing companies have come out of the 2008 downturn – many companies were born out of that. Companies were able to go to the next level by being able to pivot and meet unmet needs. They were resilient and many have been through several different crises. If you plan long-term, you can weather the storm.”

Successful organizations foster a culture of innovation and agility. 

To do this, you should use real-time data to anticipate shifts in consumer behavior and preferences. By embracing change as a constant, you safeguard you brand reputation and also position yourself as an industry frontrunner, capable of navigating the unpredictable waves of the market.

Managing Employee Engagement and its Impact on Brand Perception

Kay Phelps, director of British workplace communications company PR in HR, claims, “Employees who are engaged are likely to spread positive thoughts around your brand — be it through word of mouth or social media.” 

Employee satisfaction is linked to a brand's reputation, serving as a crucial factor that can either enhance or diminish the overall perception of a company. 

When employees are content and engaged, they become brand ambassadors, positively influencing external stakeholders through their interactions and experiences. 

According to Glassdoor, the employee’s voice is three times more credible than the CEO when it comes to talking about working conditions in the company. 

Satisfied employees are more likely to deliver exceptional customer service, leading to positive word-of-mouth and online reviews. 

On the contrary, a grumpy and unhappy workforce can lead to negative brand sentiment, affecting customer perception and loyalty. Successful organizations will invest in employee well-being programs, prioritize open communication channels, and foster a positive corporate culture.

SaaS companies must ensure their brand reputation strategies adhere to applicable laws and ethical guidelines regarding transparency, privacy, and data use.

For example, GDPR in the EU mandates firms be clear about data collection purposes and give users more control over their personal information. 

Data breaches where customer information is compromised, however unintentional, can devastate consumer trust. 78% of customers say they'd stop engaging with a brand after a breach. Having safeguards and protocols around securing user data is imperative.

Reputation repair efforts also often have an ethical dimension around taking accountability, addressing misinformation, and communicating with candor. SaaS firms should build crisis readiness plans to facilitate rapid response while protecting rights. 

The solution comes down to embedding ethical data usage, governance and communication principles throughout organizational culture. 

Leadership must condition teams to consider potential legal and moral implications in all branding initiatives - from mining data to power segmentation and personalization to writing thought leadership content.

Managing AI’s Rising Role in Brand Reputation Management or Destruction

The role of Artificial Intelligence in brand reputation management is both transformational and multifaceted. 

AI-driven marketing is set to drive 45% of the total global economy by 2030. AI technologies provide brands with powerful tools for monitoring and analyzing vast amounts of data in real-time. 

Sentiment analysis algorithms, for instance, enable companies to gauge public perception swiftly and efficiently across various online platforms. Additionally, AI-driven chatbots enhance customer interactions, addressing queries and concerns promptly, thus contributing to positive brand experiences. 

If mishandled, AI can pose a risk to brand reputation. According to a Gartner report, by 2023, 75% of large companies will retain specialists in AI forensics, privacy and customer trust specialists in a bid to stave off brand and reputation risk.

Automated systems may misinterpret sentiments or respond inadequately to nuanced situations, potentially leading to public backlash. 

The use of AI in personalized marketing and data analysis also raises concerns about privacy. Successful brand reputation management in the age of AI involves a balanced integration of technology with human oversight, ensuring ethical and accurate deployment to enhance, rather than jeopardize, a brand's standing in the eyes of consumers.

Looking to learn more about expert-backed tactics to managing brand reputation challenges? Check out our list of branding books to get you started.

Measuring and Monitoring the Impact of Your Brand Reputation Programs

Measuring and monitoring brand reputation means paying close attention to what customers are saying about you. And that means putting social listening and brand monitoring tools to work for you.

Tools for Measuring and Monitoring Brand Reputation

  • Hootsuite Streams allows you to track your brand mentions, keywords and hashtags on multiple platforms, conveniently in one place. 
  • Salesforce can create Brand perception surveys to study your target audience, including customers, employees, stakeholders, or even the public. You’ll learn how they view your brand image or reputation, and feedback on how you handle customer experiences.
  • Reputation is your business’ eyes and ears in the spaces where customers talk, post, review, and recommend. It analyzes vast amounts of public and private feedback data to uncover predictive insights you may not have seen before.
  • BrandWatch gathers insights from various social channels & analyzes trends, sentiment, and conversations about your brand.
  • Meltwater media monitoring software helps track the volume of mentions - monitoring news coverage, curates online news, blogs, social media, forums and review sites.
  • Google Alerts - just pick your keywords and get email alerts whenever it’s used somewhere on the web. That’s it! This doesn’t give you as detailed analysis as previous tools, but it may be worth using for keeping up to date on breaking news or articles mentioning your brand. 

Key Metrics for Measuring Brand Reputation

While different firms and consultants may prioritize specific metrics based on specific industry needs, these are the brand reputation metrics to pay attention to across the board to.

  • Brand sentiment: Measures the overall tone and feelings associated with the brand by looking across social media and news postings. Positive sentiment is crucial for maintaining a favorable reputation.
  • Online reviews and ratings: Reflects customer satisfaction and perception. Positive reviews and high ratings contribute to a positive brand image.
  • Social media mentions and engagement: Indicates the brand's visibility, popularity, and how actively the audience engages with the brand on social platforms.
  • Earned media coverage: Evaluates the quantity and quality of media coverage. Positive coverage enhances credibility and can positively impact brand reputation.
  • Customer satisfaction scores (CSAT): Quantifies customer satisfaction levels, offering a direct measure of how well the brand meets customer expectations.
  • Net Promoter Score (NPS): Measures customer loyalty and willingness to recommend the brand, providing insights into overall customer advocacy.
  • Share of Voice (SOV): Compares a brand's visibility to that of its competitors, indicating its prominence within the market.
  • Employee satisfaction and advocacy: Happy employees are more likely to represent the brand positively, impacting external perceptions.
  • Brand loyalty and retention rates: Indicates the level of customer loyalty and the brand's ability to retain customers over time.
  • Influencer impact: Evaluates the impact of influencers on the brand's reputation and the effectiveness of influencer marketing strategies.
  • Customer feedback and surveys: Directly gathers insights from customers, helping to identify areas for improvement and measure brand perception.

Staying Ahead of the Curve

Bottom line, from commonly faced challenges to tools and metrics to look out for, this guide elevates your brand reputation strategies and take your company to the next level.

By embracing these tacticss and using the power of a strong brand reputation to your advantage, you'll not only stay ahead of the competition but strengthen your connection with your customers.

For more insights like this, sign up for our newsletter curated for marketing leaders so you don’t miss a beat. 

By Melissa Glazar

Melissa specializes in growth marketing and digital marketing. With experience at small to medium sized companies, she has driven social media growth, optimized a sales funnel to work with overall company marketing efforts, and seen enough KPIs to make your head spin. She’s excited to bring her knowledge to you, and knows you’ll find it valuable!