Calhoun Companies is excited to announce a three-part blog series, written by Rose McKinney, APR. Ms. McKinney is the founder of Pineapple RM, a Minneapolis-based communications firm focused on reputation management. Prior to starting the agency, Ms. McKinney was the president of Risdall McKinney Public Relations. She is a recipient of many local and national awards in the public relations/reputation management field.
Ms. McKinney can be reached via email at email@example.com or by telephone at 612.616.1529. You can view her company’s website at http://pineapplerm.com.
Brand-Reputation: From Foundation to Flourish
When your business opened, whether that was recently or many years ago, it started with a purpose. The company name and logo helped customers know what your business did; these also set expectations of what it would be like to do business with your company.
In essence, you created a brand. And, in time, your business went from making a brand promise to earning a reputation. Perhaps this happened by saying and doing what you felt were the right things – things that were true about your business and things that were important to your customers. This approach served many businesses quite well – until recent years.
It seems today, businesses face increasing challenges to stand out in a crowded, competitive marketplace, to offer truly differentiating products and services, to attract and retain talented employees, and to gain and keep loyal customers. When it comes to marketing, ever-changing technology and rapidly expanding channels of communication are new realities, so why do some businesses propel forward while others flounder?
In part, it has to do with the role of brand and reputation. These two distinct but inseparable assets are powerful influencers of success. Brand no longer is limited to products and services. Today, individuals, schools, associations, industries and more put intentional effort into brand strategy, and you can, too.
Let’s start with defining brand and reputation.
Brand is the promise that you make and reputation is the marketplace’s perception of whether you deliver on that promise. While these are similar, there are some important distinctions. With brand, you get to make some decisions about what you do and how you communicate it – as an organization, as the identity (logo, tagline, colors) and as an experience (online, in print, in person, etc.). You get to determine the tone and personality, even the colors, the look and the feel.
Based on a brand’s interactions and touch points – internally with employees and externally with customers, partners, media, community and others – these key audiences ask themselves if they believe your brand promise. What they do believe is your reputation. Quite simply, brand is the foundation for your business; reputation is the flourish.
You might wonder once you have a brand, does it ever need to change? While a well thought out, well received brand should be enduring in principle, societal changes precipitate updates. It’s a good idea to review and refresh it every few years. If there have been significant positive or negative changes with the organization – new leadership, new product or service categories, new innovations, etc. – this is a good time to determine the current relevance of the brand message. It’s also a good idea to monitor the competition and make sure your brand remains distinct and compelling.
In future posts, we will explore what the brand process entails, who to include and what outcomes you can expect. Until then, take some time to ask yourself: How do your customers and employees talk about your business? How do you communicate what you do, both internally and externally? Does your mission statement truly reflect your mission? Does your brand match your reputation? The answers and accompanying actions will help your company flourish.
Tags: small business practices, brand reputation, reputation, success, business, brand, small business