Nowadays, every business knows the importance of branding, but few truly understand what that means. Yes, you have your logo and your colors and fonts. But your brand is infinitely more than your branding. The difference between a basic brand and one that stands out in its brilliance is understanding the thread binding all those elements together. It’s not a particular look, logo, or name; it’s a feeling. People's gut reaction when they encounter your brand makes them instantly love it or loathe it.
It’s the difference between watching every TikTok, every reel, and scrolling by no matter how many times a company pays for you to see their content.
A brand's value is its power to attract and retain people. How does it do this?
Here’s why your brand’s reputation is crucial, particularly online.
A brand’s reputation is the culmination of multiple factors, from the values it upholds to the customer service it provides, to the leadership steering it and the extent of its social responsibility, not to mention financial performance. The visual elements of your brand are the public front for all that goes into your company and the reputation you create for it.
That reputation will be forged over years, from performance, perception, the experience of customers, the quality of products and services, and your ability to create an environment that attracts top talent and ensures they’re happy and fulfilled in their roles.
We often get so caught up in the parts of a brand people see, that we forget about the elements they hear. Word of mouth is incredibly powerful, and while positive word of mouth can be a huge boom to your business, negative stories can break you.
Reviews left of your business on Google are extremely important. These are important because the first thing most people do when considering buying a product or investing in a service is go to Google to check out the reviews first.
Sadly, in the attention-deficient online world we currently inhabit, the actual content of those reviews doesn’t always speak for you. Business owners are busy people - you know that better than anyone. Trawling through reviews to decide which company you're going to use isn't top of anyone's To-Do list.
The star rating can be enough to put people off. Three stars or less, and many will dismiss you out of hand. Four or four and a half stars and they will click through and read a few accounts to see what you’re about. The accounts they immediately go for?
The negative ones.
A solid five stars, however, and those same people are often sold, particularly if you have a high volume of reviews.
The lesson? Monitoring your reviews on Google and other platforms like TrustPilot is critical. Encouraging as many customers as possible to leave reviews is also key; just remember, you also need to focus on customer experience and satisfaction if you are doing this.
Otherwise, all you will encourage is a lot of negativity.
Former Employees And Attracting Top Talent
Just as poor reviews of your products or services can put people off buying or signing, poor employee feedback can make it tough to attract top talent. Your company’s growth hinges on the ability to attract and retain the right staff, so this is far more critical than most people realize.
With sites like Glassdoor providing easy ways to see what employees - past and present - think of your company, ensuring a positive working culture and environment isn’t just a matter of staffing.
It’s a matter of reputation.
A brand with a strong reputation is one people naturally want to join. Gain a reputation for a toxic working environment, however, and you’ll face serious issues. You only need to look at Uber and Tesla to see how problematic it can be when a brand gains a rep for a toxic working environment.
The knock-on effect from this is tangible. Not only will you struggle to hire the right people, affecting your ability to deliver quality and causing customer satisfaction to drop, but being known for your negative working environment will deter people from buying from you.
Employee experience, customer experience, and the ability to attract and retain clients and workers is an interconnected cycle. One part becoming toxic will poison the whole.
Businesses work very differently in the digital age, largely due to social media. Whether you are an active presence on social platforms or not is actually irrelevant; when people have an opinion about your brand (positive or negative), they’re going to post it to their social media.
This means that whether you like it or not, you can’t avoid a social media presence.
Not if you intend to build a visible brand.
The more visible you become, the more people post about you on social media. So, having an active presence that is carefully managed to ensure you’re presenting a positive image is in your company’s best interest.
Likewise, some people will try to contact you through social media because that is their preferred medium. It’s easier to find you on Instagram, TikTok, Facebook, or LinkedIn than it is to Google your website and find your contact form or email address. If they can’t find you on social, they will become frustrated at being forced to use a method of communication they don’t like - phone, email, etc.
Ensuring you’re aware of messages as they come through, and replying to them promptly and positively is far more important than you might think.
One Final Thought…
Being aware of everything that plays into your brand is vital. Ensuring you’re actively working towards making those elements as positive as possible is essential. But being consistent across all areas is perhaps the most important piece of this puzzle. It’s also usually the most difficult to achieve.
Do you have systems in place to raise your visibility and manage how employees and customers experience your brand? Is your team fully aware of your brand values and mission and effective in maintaining both? Is your website conveying messaging that is aligned with your goals and values? Is that messaging consistent across your social media content, newsletters, advertisements and promotions?
When you're positioning yourself as the business other businesses want to work with, your online presence and brand must be carefully curated, managed and maintained.