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What will a bad reputation cost your brand?

What will a bad reputation cost your brand? Christina Sanders

The term "brand" encompasses a wide range of ideas -- from a company and its product, to the company culture, to the experience customers expect to have with that brand. A lot of hard work goes into building a brand. A brand becomes part of an owner's identity, means of livelihood, and the means of livelihood for employees.

Having a solid brand reputation is essential for a business's growth and longevity. Here's a look at some of the costs of a poor brand reputation.

Lost investment
Most brands don't start out with a bad reputation. In fact, a lot of investment goes into building and shaping a brand. When a brand's reputation goes south, not only does the owner stand to lose that initial time and financial investment, but the entire story surrounding the brand can be rewritten to the point that the original brand image is lost. The owner of the brand might be forced to reinvent or revamp the whole brand entirely to repair the bad reputation. A brand with a bad reputation is like a terrible tooth ache that will not go away on its own, except something tangible is done about it.

Financial implications
Having a brand with a bad reputation will significantly reduce sales and patronage. It will damage the financial status of the business and limit the growth of the business, hinder the growth of the workers and everything else associated with the brand. It will hinder opportunities for expansion or for diversification. It will stall everything that had initially been good about the brand. In addition, the business will likely have to make a significant investment to clean up its reputation.

H.R. impact
Businesses with a poor brand reputation must put in additional time and money to acquire new talent and will likely lose out on hiring the most qualified prospects who would rather work for a more reputable business. One study https://hbr.org/2016/03/a-bad-reputation-costs-company-at-least-10-more-per-hire found that a company with 10,000 employees would have to offer a 10 percent pay increase to convince a prospect to work at a company with a bad reputation.

Opportunity cost
On top of sinking sales, there is a real opportunity cost from not having satisfied customers. Satisfied customers are more likely to refer a brand to someone they know and become repeat customers. The business will also lose out on potential customers or clients due solely to its poor brand image.

Reputational debt
Even once a company has put in the effort to clean up the problem that led to a reputation crisis, the taint associated with that problem will continue to haunt that brand for years to come. Depending on the nature of the issue, a business may even lose out on its key positioning in the market or lose credibility in its core value proposition.

A brand's bad reputation could develop without warning because sometimes it only takes that one bad word of mouth, comment or review to catch on and do extreme damage. As my company says, part of the risks of showing up online is that someone else might end up telling your story. Protect your brand by protecting your online reputation.

Maintaining a reputation does not have to be overwhelming. To keep a good name for your brand, and avoid the aforementioned costs of a poor reputation, consider these five tips:

Social media
Your social media accounts should be active. At a minimum consider which platform your audience is on, and make sure you are active there. This will give your brand a voice as your audience becomes more familiar with who you are and what your business stands for. It is also a great way to have regularly updated, newsworthy information posted about your business.

Encourage reviews
When you are working with people and you can see that it has been a positive experience, encourage them to write a review. People seek out reviews as a part of their decision making process. Getting a third party to vouch for your service will help others see the capacity your business has for helping people.

Local presence
Build your brand awareness by being an active and involved member of the community. This could be anything from city chamber meetings to volunteering. Find a way to have a meaningful voice and positive associations with your brand will follow. A solid foundation will be built to help prevent negative news from overpowering your brand name.

Quality content
Be proactive about making good content. There are so many different mediums people can use to create their content -- blog posts, podcasts, videos, infographics. Proactively make good content then if negative results arrive there will be good to combat the bad.

Take the high road
If disputes arise about you or your brand, refrain from slinging mud back. This results in both parties getting dirty. Let your results, content and good work speak for themselves. Your audience will respect the mature way the conflict is handled.

Your online reputation is important. It can destroy you or build you to a higher level. Maintaining a positive online presence ultimately it comes down to actively spreading the good of your company rather than waiting to put out the fire of the bad. Investing in your reputation will save you in the long run.

Christina Sanders is a lead enterprise digital marketer at 97th floor with six years combined experience in digital marketing and communications. She has worked with startups to Fortune 500 businesses and has a particular love of B2B tech.

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