Brand Reputation: Building Trust & Loyalty
What Do We Mean By “Brand Reputation”
Brand reputation is a key representation of your business. It is the customer-perceived impression of how you engage with customers and uphold your business’s integrity. In order to build trust with customers—so they buy from you—you must have a strong brand reputation.
For every one-star increase in your review ratings, statistically, your amount of business will increase 5 to 9 percent. As Warren Buffet once said, “It takes twenty years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it. If you think about that, you’ll do things differently.” This means answering every good and bad review on all top social media platforms, including Yelp, Google, Foursquare, and TripAdvisor. Not only should you be responding to each comment, but also trying to fix the issues behind every bad review.
Don’t just put a Band-Aid on the situation, as many food and beverage establishments tend to do. If you were wrong and made a mistake, apologize, but also offer an incentive to encourage the customer to return to your establishment. Doing this will show them and others that you care. It may even result in the reviewer taking their complaint down. When you fix negative feedback, or try to fix negative feedback, both potential and existing customers will value your business even more. It publicly demonstrates that you care and will go above and beyond to help all patrons have a great dining experience.
How To Have The Best Brand Reputation Possible (In A Nutshell)
In order to build up your brand reputation, encouraging more customers to buy from you, you must consistently communicate with your existing clientele through all social media outlets, emails, text messages, ad sites, and review sites. In addition, you’ll also need to communicate with your potential new customers through effective marketing campaigns. By communicating well with your existing customers, your brand will appear trustworthy to potential consumers, attracting them to your brand. This leads to the much-desired increase in sales.
Why Brand Reputation Matters To Your Business
Your brand reputation is the foundation of your business and leads to greater brand awareness.
When you have a strong brand reputation, it will automatically be easier to attract people to your business. You’ll still need to create ads to build brand awareness, but the two go hand in hand. If you don’t have a strong brand reputation before you create social media ads to reach new patrons, you are wasting your time and money.
We now have two-way communication in the marketing world. When you create ads and content, your audience can communicate with you directly. If their questions, comments, and feedback are not responded to, it may turn them off to your business and decrease your brand reputation. Ultimately, this means a decrease in sales.
With that being said, look at this new range of communication as a golden opportunity. When you create social media ads and then focus on brand reputation by answering all positive and negative feedback in a professional manner, you build strong brand awareness. Potential customers will notice the level of current satisfaction and remember your business when they are in the market for your specific product or service.
The Benefits Of Focusing On Brand Reputation
* Consumer Trust (In You & Anything Connected To Your Brand)
- As more people become aware of your business, you gain trust by being actively responsive. Consumers see how you conduct yourself in regards to positive and negative comments and reviews. Nobody wants to conduct business with a management that either doesn’t respond to reviews, or responds consistently in a defensive manner to any negative feedback. The potential customer will always put themselves in the shoes of the disgruntled reviewer who left the feedback in the first place.
With that said, if you are replying to negative reviews, it’s better to fix the situation as much as possible in order to encourage the customer to buy from you again. This will not only build trust with your current customers, but also be attractive to potential ones who are looking at your reviews and responses. This is why Amazon is the leading business for consumers, because their customers know they can always return an item that is defective or not to their liking. This builds confidence and trust in their brand. When you find yourself replying to angry customers, you need to do everything in your power to turn a negative situation into a positive one.
* Customer Loyalty
- Some might ask, “What does brand reputation have to do with customer loyalty?” It has everything to do with customer loyalty! When you have a strong brand reputation, your customers will be extremely loyal to you. They know how hard you work to please. After you build trust with your customers, they will defend you when someone else tries to defame your brand’s reputation.
Our marketing agency specializes in restaurants and we see it all the time. Someone that is extremely displeased—or as we say, “hangry”—will go to your social media platforms, like Facebook, and leave a nasty review or comment. Your loyal customers will see this and almost immediately start defending your business. Of course, this takes months or even years to accomplish, but when you do reach this level of loyalty, it’s an incredible breath of fresh air.
- Another reason customers will be loyal to you if you have a great brand reputation is because they will sell your product or service for you. Let’s face it, we all have go-to brands. Sometimes we use these to the point we won’t even consider switching it up. This is true for our customers as well, especially when they see friends and family. Therefore, building a great brand reputation will help build a loyal (and larger) customer base.
* Overall Increased Sales
- If you want people to keep coming back to your business, building a solid brand reputation will significantly increase your sales. When you monitor your brand 24/7, it’s important to answer questions quickly. For example, if you have a restaurant, someone might ask if you have a gluten-free bun as an alternative for your burger. If you don’t reply, they will, a) go to another business who they know offers it, and b) feel ignored. On the flip side, if you reply to them in a professional and timely manner, they will happily come to your restaurant to make an order. Even if you don’t offer a gluten-free bun, you can offer a substitute, such as a lettuce bun.
- Another way a great brand reputation increases your sales is by converting negative comments and reviews into positive ones. This makes previous patrons want to come back and order more from you. Ultimately, they realize it’s less risky for them to do business with you than elsewhere.
* Beat Out Competitor Brands
- Beating your competitors is every great business’s goal. This doesn’t mean that you attempt to sabotage your competition’s business; it means you work towards becoming the best you can be in your sector. Let us let you in on a little secret:
The most successful companies in every sector become the best in their sector by focusing on three elements:
1. How they can make their business better
2. How they can communicate better with both their existing and new potential customers
3. How they can solve all their customers’ problems.
With all that said, having a great brand reputation isn’t that common in every business because not enough businesses believe in it yet. This gives you the advantage when you start focusing your energy on your brand reputation. When your competitors are not there for their customers, you will be there already, ready to assist them with their needs.
* Word Of Mouth
- We talk with many potential customers who always give us excuses as to why they don’t care about digital marketing and brand reputation. Most often, it’s because they don’t believe in it and claim word of mouth is the only way to acquire new customers.
We believe in word of mouth, but we also strongly believe that social media is the new word of mouth with even greater reach. There are more and more people on social media than ever before. Most of them barely gather together in person anymore because they are too busy having a conversation with their friends and family on social media.
- When you have a great brand reputation, word of mouth will be one of your best marketing tools. When everyone is sharing your business products or services on their social media accounts, word of mouth travels a lot faster and longer online than solely someone’s close friends and family. Your customers may also take screenshots of your responses and send them to friends and family when they are impressed by your service.
* Brand Reputation Allows For Multiple Locations
- Brand reputation is essential if you’re looking to establish multiple locations, because if you built a great foundation for your brand, then you already have the key tool to grow your business. Take Chick-fil-A, for example, they built a solid reputation because people know their service and products will always be up to par. It’s to the point where influencers have created multiple memes and gifs based on their Chick-fil-A experiences.
When you have a great brand reputation, people want to conduct business with you. This could potentially mean spreading out as a franchise if you are a restaurant owner. If you lack a strong brand reputation, especially online, then many potential investors will not want to own one of your franchises. They don’t trust your brand yet for proper support or to put out fires when they occur.
* High Quality Employees
- Employees want to be proud of where they work, and many employees will choose a lower paying wage in a better work environment over a higher paying job in a toxic environment. With a good brand reputation, you are portraying quality while also advertising a great work environment. When you get defensive or hostile with your customers, many good employees back off. They don’t want to associate themselves with a negative brand.
- We try to help restaurant owners get and retain great employees with our Restaurant Consultation Services, and the first thing we notice is that they often don’t care about their brand reputation. If they can’t change that, we respectfully discontinue our services, because we know that we can’t solve problems if owners don’t want to work on their problems. Many good employees want to associate themselves with a great brand which has a strong brand reputation. They want to boast about their position to their family and friends, not hide it.
- Having a great brand reputation not only increases your sales, but it also keeps your sales consistent. For example, when you offer one product and people trust your brand, they tend to look for your brand when they are looking to buy other products. This concept also goes for services.
Our clients at Golden Web Media love our preset Social Media Packages. However, we built such a great brand reputation for our clients that they often ask us if we offer other services related to marketing. This led to creating new services, because we were just trying to solve all our clients’ problems. Initially we only offered social media marketing, and now we offer around 15 different services. We were able to accomplish this because our clients trust that we will be completely transparent with them and will go above and beyond to produce great results.
2 Examples Of Bad Hits To Brand Reputation
Recently, Coca-Cola had an anti-racism course which hit the news. One of the example slides listed on entreprenur.com stated: “To be less white is to: be less oppressive, be less arrogant, be less certain, be less defensive, be less ignorant, be more humble… to listen, to believe, to break with apathy, and to break with white solidarity.”
Brand reputation plays an important role here because Coca-Cola never posted anything about this on their social media. After the slides were leaked, the president apologized on the company website, which isn’t very noticeable: https://www.coca-colacompany.com/media-center/diversity-equity-inclusion-training
As big as Coca-Cola is, it would have been advisable to come out with a video apologizing to all customers and staff they offended. That being said, the viral photo of a Coca-Cola can with the writing, “Be Less White,” was proven to be an altered photo. Still, a video would have offered the opportunity for the president of Coca-Cola to address these false accusations as well.
As for the remaining social media comments, it’s best to follow up with brand reputation clean up. This means deleting and blocking the people who defame your brand, because they can hurt your brand reputation when other customers see those remarks. Answering every single comment allows you to educate the public on the validity of accusations while, more importantly, acknowledging concerns.
2. Fashion Powerhouses: H&M And Gucci
H&M and Gucci both faced a lot of backlash over some of their ads being deemed racist. Two ads caused significant controversy. One showed a young black kid wearing a “coolest monkey in the jungle” sweatshirt for H&M. The other portrayed a white female wearing a black Gucci turtleneck that rolled up into a women’s balaclava to create half of a black face complete with lips and a mouth opening.
In the fashion industry, many employees have seen and designed these types of ads, including with their managers’ input. So some might say it wasn’t a mistake. H&M made a public statement, but continued to sell the hoodie in other markets for a brief time. Gucci also offered an apologetic statement, mentioning the need for diversity training in the future.
These companies could have come out on their own social media platforms to reach their consumers directly and make a better lasting impression. A video statement would have been more personal as well. We would have advised them to fire those involved in creating such tone deaf advertisements.
7 Ways To Build Your Brand Reputation
1. Be Active
Let’s face it, mistakes happen. Even in our own digital marketing agency, with multiple eyes on each account, there will be a mistake from time to time. When mistakes do happen, you want to be proactive. Clean up those mistakes fast, before your audience makes a big fuss about it. That means monitoring your digital media and brand reputation at all times, even if it’s in your establishment’s physical location (if you have one).
2. Be Realistic And Honest
We all hate it when a brand promises us something and they under-deliver. If you want a great brand reputation, you have to leave room for mistakes by over-delivering. You don’t want to have a brand reputation that overpromises and under-delivers.
An example would be our super busy restaurant clientele. They often add 15 minutes to their expected delivery or waiting time. With COVID, many of them were busier than ever. To ensure they weren’t raising false hopes, they would tell customers that delivery times are 2 and 1/2 to 3 hours. Some patrons would wait, because the food was amazing and worth the cost of their time. In most cases, the restaurant would end up delivering early, which made customers extremely happy.
You want to make your clients feel special. Be realistic to give yourself the opportunity to over-deliver.
3. Be The Expert
Ideally, you want to be from a brand that has an authoritative brand reputation. Take this article for instance. We are trying to add the most value to you because we understand the power of an authoritative brand reputation. Let’s face it, we all generally hate salesmen because most are trying to sell to you without your best interests in mind. They only want to meet their monthly quota.
The solution? Be the expert in your sector. Find ways to show your customers and potential customers that you are the expert. And the results? They will buy from you. You won’t even need to be down anyone’s throats for the sale.
4. Brand Consistency Is Key
If you claim to provide the best quality work, then you must be consistent in producing high quality products or services. Portraying your brand reputation appropriately is very important. Whether it’s having the highest quality products or service or even the cheapest products, it needs to be clear.
Many companies that have a great brand reputation for producing high quality products or services will create another company offering the cheapest products or service. They do this because they understand consistency in brand reputation. People will oftentimes buy from both sides. An example of this is Volkswagen. Their cars are inexpensive, but they also own Bugatti, with prices ranging from 1 million to 19 million dollars. Switching their brand reputations model would ruin their current brand reputations and ultimately decrease their sales.
5. Collect Feedback
Everything mentioned above is highly important to brand reputation, but collecting feedback might be the most important. It lets your customers know you are listening to them. Even if you don’t agree with them, you must have a legitimate explanation. Most business owners should look to increase their customer feedback, because the interaction will only grow their brand reputation.
For example: When McDonald’s customers constantly request to bring the breakfast bagels back. Instead of an automatic, “We will look into it,” admit the real reason it’s not happening. Better yet, go back to the drawing board and make it happen. They could even create an ad based on the negative feedback and flip it around. This tells patrons, We have been listening to you and we decided to cater to your needs! Caring about the small things creates more trust and loyalty.
6. Invest In Your Local Community
When we consult with our restaurant owners, we always advise them to invest back into their communities. This could mean donating to school programs, sponsoring a little league, or simply helping out in any way possible. Your brand reputation will dramatically increase from this investment. And if another competitor enters your domain, the local community will be loyal to you.
If you are an ecommerce store, it’s still a good idea to find ways to invest in the local community. A great example of this would be during COVID times. Your business could partner with a local food and beverage store near you to buy food for staff members at the local hospital. Some might say it’s a selfish good deed, but nonetheless, it’s still a good deed. In the end, it benefits both parties.
7. The Customer Is Always Right
If you have been in business for a long time, you already know that customers are not always right. Regardless, we must treat everyone accordingly, unless it’s a false accusation. When an item arrives late and someone is upset, agree with them. Empathize. Don’t make excuses or ignore the situation. Building a solid brand reputation takes time and effort and is essentially building a healthy relationship with your customers. After validating their complaint with your agreement, apologize and explain what happened. Then, ultimately, offer an incentive to both remedy the current situation and encourage them to return in the future.
For example, when Golden Web Media aims to remove negative reviews from our client’s review sites, we go above and beyond to understand where the customer is coming from. Once we understand their feelings, we can get to the bottom of the situation. From there, we prefer to offer return incentives as an apology for any inconvenience. This shows you care. Nine out of ten times, they take the negative review off. Many don’t even bother taking the incentive, because at the end of the day, they just want to be heard and respected.
Starting On Your Brand Reputation Revival
Clearly, focusing on a solid brand reputation means strengthening your business in a myriad of ways. The benefits are all complementary and continue building off of each other as you go. It’s important to keep the details in mind, because that’s always where it comes back to: your direct relationship with and influence on your customers.
Feel free to reach out to us for a virtual meeting if you’d like an estimation for a personalized plan to increase your brand reputation.
By: Founder, Mina Ibrahim