There is a number of positive things that limitless connectivity has brought to businesses large and small. In addition to being able to reach a global audience with a click, modern-day brands also have an opportunity to build their reputation using transparency and instilling trust.
The age of false advertising is more or less over.
In today’s business terms, brand recognition is equated to brand reputation.
Because you can’t have one without the other, you can easily find yourself in a situation where one reckless tweet can cost your company millions of dollars. With reputation threats lurking from both within and outside of your business, risk management should be your priority.
3 Major Brand Reputation Threats You Can Anticipate
More than 25% of your company’s entire market value is directly attributable to its brand reputation, according to a study by the World Economic Forum. That’s a lot. However, protecting your brand image is not as problematic when you know what threats to avoid proactively. From improving your company culture to using a VPN to improve security, there’s a lot of work to do.
The three most common brand reputation risks are:
- Poor Customer Complaint Handling
There’s a good reason why the world’s leading brands spend millions on high-quality customer service. So much depends on the customer-facing aspects of your business, and not only because companies need satisfied customers to drive more sales. It’s also because of bad reviews.
Unlike in the pre-digital age when brands were able to handle customer complaints quietly, today’s online environment allows for dissatisfied customers to criticize brands very publicly. And thanks to social media, their complaints often go viral in a matter of a couple of hours.
One negative review can cost you around $3,000 in potential business.
- Insufficient Cybersecurity Measures
Target Corporation is the eighth-largest retailer in the US. In 2013, a foreseeable data hack made the giant lose $242 million. In the context of today’s B2C relationships, we cannot avoid the fact that every brand collects and stores personal information about their customers.
Subscriptions are everyday practice, whether it comes to traditional retail or digital products. Most customers willingly leave their email addresses on their favourite brand’s websites, not to mention the data they entrust their banks, software providers, and cloud providers with.
Getting hacked is no longer a threat to sensitive business information.
It’s a PR nightmare that puts hundreds of customers at risk.
- Bad Employee Treatment or Culture
Another example of brand reputation gone awry comes from Amazon. There’s not a consumer who hasn’t heard of employee maltreatment stories involving this popular brand. Not only is Amazon facing a number of lawsuits over this, but its sales have started plummeting, too.
Bad employee treatment or toxic and repressive company cultures are a serious brand reputation risk for all the same reasons as in the case of poor customer complaint handling. Everything a dissatisfied employee needs to bring your market value down is one angry Facebook post.
How you approach these PR scandals can make or break your brand.
3. Good Ways To Keep Your Brand Reputation Protected
Over a half of 300 global brands polled for a Deloitte/Forbes Insights study said that they’ve started allocating more resources to risk management than ever before. Where precisely do these resources go? While one part is dedicated to PR control, the other goes for cybersecurity.
As an SMB, the best ways to protect your brand reputation are:
- Be very responsive to your concerned customers.
- Build a robust cybersecurity infrastructure.
- Maintain a culture of transparency and openness.
In an ideal case, your products and services would never lead to customer frustration. But this rate of customer satisfaction is hardly (if at all) achievable. The best you can do is stay responsive to their complaints and have a risk management strategy in place for dealing with mishaps.
If you haven’t already, start raising cybersecurity awareness right away.
One way to keep your customer data protected is by relying on a VPN to encode every piece of digital information your company collects and stores. It’s equally important to train your employees on how to use a VPN and use other cybersecurity tools and practices on an everyday basis, too.
Finally, never treat your employees badly. Choose them with care as well, by establishing smart hiring practices. That way, you’ll minimize the risks of getting into a situation where a rogue employee could harm your brand reputation out of mere spite. Nurture transparency as a part of your company culture.
As long as you cherish your customers, protect their data, and respect your employees, you’ll have an army of brand advocates on your side. Even if somebody tries to bring you down, these people will remain loyal enough to speak on your behalf and defend your brand’s integrity.