Building Brand Reputation – Part 3

So far in the Building Brand Reputation series, you’ve learned how to define and develop your brand reputation, but your work isn’t done yet. Now, it’s time to learn how to monitor your brand reputation to ensure it stays laser-focused on your target audience so you can meet your goals. A brand reputation can go astray at anytime. If you’re not monitoring yours, you won’t know when danger looms. Don’t let that happen. Instead, follow the advice in this article to stay on track at all times.

brand reputationMonitoring Your Brand Reputation Online

When I started my marketing career, the social web didn’t exist. Monitoring brand reputation was far more challenging than it is today. Instead of having too little data, today, marketers have an overwhelming amount of data, and making sense of all of that data is the biggest challenge.

An entire industry has grown from the need for brands and companies to collect and analyze social data, which provides valuable information about the conversations happening about your brand online. These conversations play a significant role in building brand reputations, and if you don’t know what those conversations are, your brand is in jeopardy of failure.

Remember, consumers build brands, not companies. However, it’s the company’s responsibility to define the brand promise and deliver on that promise. If the company drops the ball, the brand reputation suffers. “I’m never buying XYZ brand again.” “XYZ brand customer service stinks.” “I love XYZ brand.” These are statements that brand managers didn’t have access to in the past, but today, those statements and the subsequent sharing and discussing of those statements are at our fingertips. Make sure you use them to your advantage!

Jump into conversations to nudge them in the right direction, publish original content that tells your brand story, and build relationships with consumers that transcend individual brand interactions and turn into powerful brand loyalty and word-of-mouth marketing.

Use social media monitoring and analytics tools like the ones offered by Radian6, HubSpot, or Awareness to manage your online brand reputation. Apps like Monitter.com and HootSuite can help you monitor your brand reputation on Twitter. Keep tabs on local review sites like Yelp, and set up alerts through Google Alerts and SocialMention. And be sure to use analytics tools like Google Analytics and Facebook Insights to monitor your brand reputation on your website, blog, and Facebook Page.

Use the information you collect to create your own content, join conversations, and respond to comments. Most importantly, listen to what consumers are saying about your brand online and use that feedback to modify your messages, brand experiences, or products and services to ensure your brand stays relevant.

Analyzing Your Brand Reputation Through Research

You can also use traditional market research to analyze the state of your brand reputation. Asking consumer panel audiences what they think of your brand can give you an overall picture of how your brand is perceived by broad audiences. You can also zero in on niche audiences to determine how different target audiences perceive your brand reputation.

Ask probing questions that provide deeper insights than questions that simply identify whether people view your brand reputation positively or negatively. Analogy questions and personification questions can help draw out those deeper insights. Furthermore, use ranking questions to prioritize positive and negative elements of your reputations through the eyes of consumers.

Changing Your Brand Reputation

A negative or skewed brand reputation can be changed with consistent effort. Often, changes need to occur within the company before a brand reputation can be completely redefined.

hyundai genesisFor example, Hyundai has spent years redefining its brand reputation from cheap, low quality cars to affordable, attractive vehicles. CEO of Hyundai Motor America John Krafcik claims that the brand is changing from a “value” brand into a “valuable” brand. Earlier this year, he explained to Autoweek that, “Instead of developing cars to be released in five years benchmarked on current market offerings, Hyundai seeks to exceed industry norms with its products.” Over the last couple of years, those efforts have paid off for Hyundai with greater sales despite offering fewer rebates and higher sticker prices.

Just as a person can change his or her reputation with time and effort, so can a brand, but the new reputation must consistently reflect the brand promise and the company must be behind the change and deliver on it or it won’t work.

Stay tuned for Part 4 of the Building Brand Reputation series to learn how to protect and defend your brand reputation. In the meantime, if you missed earlier parts of the series, follow the links below to read them now:

Image: Constantin Deaconescu, loubeat

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Susan Gunelius
Susan Gunelius, MBA is a 25-year marketing and branding expert and President and CEO of KeySplash Creative, Inc., a marketing communications company. She is the author of 10 books about marketing, branding and social media, and her marketing-related articles appear on top media websites such as Entrepreneur.com and Forbes.com. She is also the Founder and Editor in Chief of WomenOnBusiness.com, an award-winning blog for business women.