Brand building is a term thrown around at a lot of marketing firms and internet startups. But when was the last time you actually heard someone define “brand building” in a real, tangible way? What does it really mean?
Let’s start with the meaning of “brand.” Your brand is the way that people relate to your products, services, and company as a whole. Essentially your brand is a set of images, stories, and emotions that people associate with your company. Thus, your customers define your brand through what they say, think, and feel about your company. And you can guide the public perception of your company through any number of avenues, like advertising, social media, word-of-mouth, charity work, and more: in other words—brand building. And when it comes down to it, reputation management should go hand in hand with brand building because they’re part of the same strategy to influence people’s perception of your company for the better.
In fact, they’re so closely related that when you are doing one, you should be doing the other at the same time. Take at a look at the ways that both brand building and reputation management share the same goals.
1. It’s about communication
Bad brand building is about campaigns. Good brand building is about fostering a relationship with your customers. And that goes the same for reputation management. The most successful brands build a simple and consistent image for themselves over many years; they don’t simply change every time a new fad comes along. The same is true for good reputation management. You have to stick with it and be consistent, or negative information and bad reviews will creep into your search results. But if you are consistent with your reputation management, you’ll be communicating a positive message to potential customers anytime they search for your band online.
2. Tell a story
Great bands have great stories. And I’m not just talking about a great founding story, but a story people feel every time they think about your brand. For example, when you think about Nike, you think about winning. Winning is a story. The same should go for your reputation management. When you optimize the search results for your company name, keep in mind that you can’t fill the page with all positive information about how great your company is. Instead, you have to build a story around your company by focusing on a variety of messages and platforms. Positive information, neutral information, press releases, news stories, videos, social media profiles, and more—when a potential customer searches your company online, they should see a variety of materials that tell each bit of your company story. When they see a variety of information and links, they’ll feel more confident about trusting you, and you’ll be getting your messaging to them and building your brand at the same time.
3. Stay consistent
Unsuccessful companies change their brand messaging every quarter. This confuses customers who don’t know what to think about the brand and its every-changing personality. On the other hand, successful companies stick with their brand image for a long time. Again, look at Nike. How long has their slogan been, “Just Do It”? Probably for as long as you can remember. That’s the kind of consistency you should be building with your reputation management strategy as well. Make sure that the positive and neutral information you are filling your search result page with are in-line with your company brand. When customers search for your company online, they should have the same experience they’ve had through your advertisements—even if they haven’t clicked through to your website yet.
Reputation management IS building your brand. When customers search your company name online, they will begin to form opinions about your brand according to what they see in the search results. Remember, it’s the perception that your customers have of you that defines your brand, not necessarily your marketing efforts. So get out ahead of the pack by creating a reputation management strategy that connects with your customers. Because if you don’t define your reputation, someone else will.