If you thought brand reputation was something that only large scale corporates need to think about, think again. Your reputation is deeply rooted in every single interaction with every customer, every product and service, every social media post you produce, and pretty much everything you say and do as a brand.
Even small businesses have a reputation to uphold. In fact, smaller businesses are at a far bigger risk in the case of a damaged reputation, as they lack the resources that a large sized business has to recover from a PR disaster.
To use an example, a few years ago employees at a KFC branch snapped photos of themselves enjoying a bubble bath in their fast food store kitchen. Needless to say, the photos quickly went viral. Millions of people saw the photos in a short space of time. The result was that the general public associated the badly thought-out actions of its franchise store’s employees with the KFC brand.
Why No Business Can Afford a Poor Brand Reputation
Now, imagine how your business would react if it got famous for all the wrong reasons. This is the reality of brand reputation… even a single incident can have a devastating impact on how the public perceives your brand.
Why is it such a huge risk for even the smallest of businesses to have a poor brand reputation? Let’s take a look…
It impacts your credibility
You have worked to create an image of your business that is rooted in integrity and values. Whether an employee posts an angry comment on their social media after being let go, or your brand has been under attack by a disgruntled customer, even a little bit of bad publicity can be extremely damaging to your credibility. What is even more important than being subjected to a damaged reputation is how you handle it, however. Proactively dealing with a damaged reputation is the only way to salvage your credibility. This is where online reputation management comes in to save the day (or at least your reputation).
It reduces trust
The images of bubble bathing employees in a KFC kitchen lead to many people feeling unsure about KFC’s hygiene standards. A large, international franchise business such as KFC will most likely survive, because they have such a massive reach. A mom and pop fast-food outlet on the other hand may never recover if people associated their restaurant with less than savoury employee behaviour. Once again however, reputation management can help to reduce the damage.
It affects your sales
Finally, poor reputation affects you from the bottom line, as well. This is the most damaging effect of all for smaller businesses, who can seldom afford to lose customers. Simply put, if people have an image of your brand that is not positive, they will go somewhere else. Brand loyalty only goes so far – for most customers, the decision on where to shop comes down to which option seems to be the most reliable.
Rather than waiting for disaster to happen, it is far better to invest in reputation management right from the start, to consistently showcase your brand in its best possible light.