Invest in building reputation in 2016

It may be a cliche to say, but a company's most valuable asset is its reputation. Take that away and you're often left with a 'me too' business or brand. Worse still, you've got something just not very good or pleasant.

Sports Direct.jpg

With all the statistics showing a general fall in our trust of brands, business and institutions it seems all the more surprising that too few invest in this critical part of the organisation. This has nothing to do with size or money; it's about a commitment to being the best.

There may be many reasons and combinations for this, from corporate complacency and arrogance to poor focus and business strategy to a desire to follow the latest trend or chase profit at the expense of doing the right thing.

Mike Ashley, owner of Newcastle United and retailer Sports Direct has never been afraid of courting controversy and giving scant regard to his PR or image. But perhaps that's changing as we enter a new year. He ended 2015 by promising to overhaul the image and reputation of Sport Direct, amid union protests and allegations of his poor treatment of staff. Maybe his profits were starting to be dragged down by his reputation.

Even Ashley should recognise the incredible power PR and marketing has in reaching and influencing an audience. PR that's genuine and not artificial.

Winning brands and organisations build trust and reputation by showing a clear purpose, transparency and responsibility and importantly by demonstrating humanity. They will deliver on brand promises, engage with customers and more generally, do the right thing.

Winners during 2016 will understand their customers better; making life easier for their customers.

During 2015 there were many big failures, with businesses and institutions not delivering on customer promises or general ethical behaviour, including:

  • Volkswagen emissions scandal
  • Amazon and the poor staff-experience expose
  • Talk Talk cyber attacks
  • Tesco's misjudged accounting
  • FIFA corruption allegations.

To build and then maintain reputation, companies and organisations must look to themselves and their fundamental behaviours; there must be a genuine culture and framework around ethics. Small and large can all do this - and ultimately all can profit.

Written by Wayne Halton at 00:00

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MHW 2013

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