The Difference Between Brand and Reputation

shutterstock_87868234A brand is best defined by its claim of distinction, which must be backed by evidence of performance. Reputation, on the other hand, is what a brand earns based on customers’ experiences with a company.

Brands with reputations we admire and which other companies wish to emulate are brands that have successfully built meaningful and relevant expectations – ones that are consistently met. They are managed by leaders who have a vision, and who inspire everyone around them to live the brand every day in every way. There is a reason we read about Google, Apple, Starbucks, Harley Davidson, Southwest Airlines, and GE in nearly every business and brand book we’ve picked up over the past ten, or so years. These companies have truly figured out their “it”, managing their brands with an unrelenting focus on core principles with little room for deviation. These companies are also highly competitive, always looking to break new records in every category – from sales and operational excellence, to innovation and product leadership.

With such laser focus, it makes sense that each of these companies is in complete control of its brand’s reputation and is able to mitigate vulnerabilities. In those cases where someone slips up and dings the brand’s reputation, leadership intuitively knows how to quickly correct and recover to preserve brand integrity.

Brand touch points (interactions customers and partners have with a brand) must also be properly managed to ensure the brand is properly and consistently represented and communicated. Brand touch points can be broken down into the three phases of the sales cycle: the pre-purchase, purchase and post-purchase experiences.

Pre-purchase:

  • Claims of distinction
  • Brochures
  • Signage
  • Your website design, copy and navigation
  • Facility layouts/tours
  • The way employees present themselves
  • Packaging
  • Presentations
  • Sales and promotions
  • Proposals
  • Terms of warranties
  • Other components customers experience before making a purchase decision

Purchase:

  • Interactions with your sales personnel
  • Responsiveness to inquiries
  • Financing
  • Transaction experience
  • Setting expectations

Post-purchase:

  • Delivery on expectations
  • Delivery of product
  • Installation/set-up
  • Customer training
  • Responsiveness to post-purchase questions
  • Service experience
  • Customer appreciation programs
  • Billing
  • Thank you cards

Consider that the only way to deliver on these touch points is to define your culture by recruiting the right people and properly indoctrinating each into the brand. Ask yourself, how you will search for and interview candidates? How will you change or enhance the onboarding and training process? What programs and incentives will you implement to keep employees enthusiastic about your brand?

Sound like a lot of work? It may be, but once you get going and see all the positive changes, you’ll begin to understand how powerful your brand can be and start to earn the reputation you’ve always wanted.

If you would like to know how to get started, send me an email and we’ll talk. scott@seroka.com