Hey there, folks! Today, we're going to talk about reputation management and brand awareness. See, the days when a brand could generate a positive image of itself solely through advertising are long behind us.
Thanks in large part to social media, brand recognition is now only the tip of the iceberg. Today's users are more empowered than they've ever been, able to directly impact a business's chances of success through words alone. As a result of this shift, brands now need to pay attention to the conversations consumers are having across digital channels - they need to examine comments, read reviews, and respond to negative feedback.
"The landscape in which brands now operate has changed beyond recognition," writes B2B Marketing's Toby Southgate. "A brand's reputation, once the healthy product of a successful strategy, can now be driven and developed completely by its customers, prospects, and other external audiences."
Put another way, brands are under more scrutiny than they've ever been. A single offhanded remark from a CEO, a single failed advertising campaign, or a single poorly-trained employee can have devastating ramifications, if not properly managed. Taken together, all of this means one thing, according to Southgate:
"Brands no longer control their own reputations independently."
And there's the connection between demand generation and reputation management - it's a lot simpler than you'd think it'd be. Basically, by creating demand for its products and services, a brand generates positive publicity about itself. People talk about how they want to purchase a particular phone, or about how they want to dine at a particular restaurant.
That, in turn, inspires more people to start talking about the brand - and in turn, inspires more people to give its products and services a try. It's something of a cycle of reinforcement, really; the more you get people talking about your brand, the more they'll want to associate with it, and the more they want to associate with it, the more they'll talk about it. Let me frame that in a slightly different light:
"Because the buyer relies more on peers and independent research in the early stages of engagement, it has become even more imperative that firms bring sales and marketing together with a shared approach to revenue generation," explains Inside View. "Social intelligence has proven to be a key piece of this aligned approach as it enables deeper, more relevant engagement."
So basically...the whole deal goes a little something like this. Rather than guarding and cultivating their brand image through advertising, brands instead need to demonstrate that they're worthwhile through their actions. They need to show customers that they're willing to communicate and engage with them through social channels, that their business is trustworthy, and that their products and services are valuable enough to purchase.
Though direct branding definitely still plays a role in this, it's far less vital than it used to be.
Demand generation plays an important role in this new reputation cycle. By increasing the demand for one's products and services, a business increases the likelihood of people talking about them. And by doing that, a business can exercise some level of control over what people think of it - even if its fate ultimately still lies in the hands of the consumer.
Image credit: Eric McGregor