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.
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
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
- 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