It also means there’s a lot of time for things to go wrong and there are plenty of challenges your business will face when trying to build your reputation. So, what should you prepare for?
Deciding how you want customers to see you
The first challenge is defining what you want your business reputation to be, which means deciding how you want consumers to perceive your brand. A great first step is to make a list of core values that you’d like to become synonymous with your business.
It's vital you choose values that align with your business goals and the way you operate. There’s very little to be gained from having a reputation that doesn’t help you succeed commercially.
For example, positioning yourself as a sustainable business could slightly boost your reputation, but if it means an expensive complete reimagining of your processes it probably isn’t the right route for you.
Living your values 24/7
“The way to gain a good reputation is to endeavour to be what you desire to appear.”
Socrates said that over 2500 years ago, and it remains just as true today, but it turns out that it’s easier said than done.
It’s easy enough to claim that your business lives the values of sustainability or social responsibility. If you can’t walk the walk though, you definitely shouldn’t talk the talk. It'll almost always backfire and your customers will turn on you.
One of the biggest challenges of building a business reputation is making sure your values run through the DNA of your business and are hardwired into absolutely everything you do. This means you’re going to need every member of staff to embrace those values, from the very top of the corporate ladder.
And the bigger your business, the harder this is to achieve.
Making your values a key aspect of your recruitment criteria is a great way to overcome this challenge. Hiring staff that are, for example, passionate about innovation, means your business is more likely to operate innovatively. Eventually this comes full-circle, and innovative people will want to work for you because of your reputation for innovation.
Making sure you’re being heard and seen
Sometimes building business reputation can feel like shouting into a storm, especially when you’re competing with brands that have bigger marketing budgets. And it’s disheartening to feel like nobody is listening to you.
Even though being heard and seen is important, it’s at least as important to listen too. There can be a huge disconnect between how a business views itself and how the rest of the world views it – which is why it’s vital you find a way to measure your reputation.
For example, tracking customer referrals will help measure your reputation for customer service, while tracking engagement with your social media is a fantastic way to assess your reputation as a thought leader.
Ultimately, you’ll need to work out the best methods to measure your reputation in ways that provide meaningful insights.
Avoiding reputation’s double-edged sword
As we mentioned earlier, reputation can take years to build but only seconds to destroy, from a company-wide scandal or controversy to the actions of a single employee - often with significant impact to your bottom line.