Posts Tagged ‘brand reputation’
An article in the New York Times on purpose-marketing echos my firm belief that the company behind the brand matters more than ever. In fact, Stuart Elliott says it himself: “Purpose marketing is becoming popular on Madison Avenue because of the growing number of shoppers who say that what a company stands for makes a difference in what they do and do not buy.” These socially conscious buyers are avid researchers and they know whether the companies behind the products they are considering treat their employees well, have high quality products and are well-led. The article is about Panera’s new advertising campaign that is based on the company’s core values — “Live consciously. Eat deliciously.” Has a nice ring to it.
Take a quick look at our research on the company behind the brand for hard evidence that corporate and product reputations are blending. Perhaps I should coin a new phrase called reputation-marketing to join the marketing folks who now call reputation-building campaigns with a conscience purpose-marketing. Just about a year ago, I wrote a proposal for some new business and dubbed it reputation with a purpose. Has a nice ring to it too!
A new study was just released called the Champion Brand Index from APCO, another PR Firm. It caught my interest because it ties corporate reputation to sales which we all know to be true. The survey was conducted among 10,000 consumers around the world. If you follow my work, you know that we also examined the link between corporate and brand reputation in our Company behind the Brand research. The Champion Brand Index found similar strong ties between the two and I am happy to report them here in defense of the indivisibility today between the corporate and brand reputation:
- 40% of respondents say they decided not to buy a company’s products or service because they did not agree with the company’s practices, policies or activities
- 77% of respondents believe that corporations have a greater impact on their lives today than 10 years ago
- Nearly half say that global companies have a bigger impact on their lives than the government
- 67% say that it is as important to know how a company operates as it is to know what it sells
Good stats for continuing to make the case that corporate and product brand reputation are increasingly one and the same today with the vast penetration of the Internet and globalization shrinking the world. The fact that over three-quarters of consumers notice how corporations have become tabletalk in our lives is a good one to save.
I could tell that it must have been the one year anniversary of the Costa Concordia because I started hearing about the shipliner crash in the past few days. Reputations keep rolling along throughout the year but especially hit home one year later. Whereas they might be fleeting memories at first, they all come together on the year one anniversary to make us take notice. Today I started hearing more about the memorial service for survivors and families of those who lost their 32 dear ones in Giglio, Italy and it started to stick more than two days ago. There were 846,000 mentions on Google when I searched for Costa Concordia anniversary today.
For reputation, one year anniversaries are part of the reputation process. It is almost like it fits into the five stages of grief. The one year anniversay is a day of reflection and return to the reputation demise that caused the loss in the first place. All the pictures of the cruise ship on its side off the shores of the little Tuscan city are back in view. Debates over raising the ship and removing it are back in the news. Anniversaries are important because they remind us that reputations should not restored overnight. The bigger the loss (especially when lives are lost), the longer reputation takes to repair. That should be law.
I especially remember the Costa Concordia because we were launching our survey on how corporate and brand reputations have become nearly indivisible. The parent company of the cruise liner pushed media requests over to the Costa Concordia CEO — the brand leader — in an effort to disentangle the corporate reputation from the brand reputation. Due to the ease of information flow and the Internet’s reach, much of the media coverage mentioned the parent company in the coverage which only proved that corporate and brand reputations have definitely converged. Because the entire incident happened just as we launched the survey, it is forever lodged in my mind.
Talking about reputation, tomorrow’s Oprah Winfrey interview with cyclist Lance Armstrong will be another one for the record books. I am not sure how Lance’s confession that he used drugs to help him win the Tour de France several times will go over. My sense is that an apology might not curb his rapid reputation decline and Lance’s reputation might not just keep rolling along but might face a hard stop for awhile. No telling where it will be, however, in three or four years. I will be interested to tune in and watch.
It is that time of the year. Last day of 2012 and the start of a new 2013. I posted an article to Huffington Post on what I see ahead by looking backward at reputation trends bubbling up and trends on the vast horizon. Here is the post if you want to settle into the new year with a clear lenses on reputation possibilities.
Wishing you a happy new year!
You have probably read enough about our survey The Company behind the Brand: In Reputation We Trust. The first segment of the study, released in early 2012, reported on the growing interdependence of product brand and corporate reputation. The findings alerted marketing and communications executives to a tectonic shift in communicating the voice of the “enterprise” to key stakeholders. The survey, conducted with KRC Research, was among nearly 2,000 consumers and executives in two developed markets (U.S. and U.K.) and two developing markets (China and Brazil). The second release focused on CEOs and their role in reputation-building from the viewpoint of consumers and executives. This third release, just issued today, explores how executives in companies that market their products under multiple brand names differ from those companies who market mostly under one single brand name in their approach to building reputation. It addresses why it may be critical for product brands to be transparent about their ownership, even in cases where a company has made thoughtful and strategic decisions to lessen the exposure of the corporate brand.
We learned that 75% of executives at companies that manage products under multiple brand names now believe that a strong parent brand reputation is as important as the company’s individual product brands. As I was quoted in today’s release and executive summary: “Historically, multi-brand organizations more extensively marketed their product brands over their corporate brands, but their future success might entail determining how to bring the corporate brand forward to realize the full potential of all their reputational assets.”
I always get asked what surprised me. First, despite the advantage of leveraging the parent brand to enhance the reputation of the product brands, the survey found that many multi-brand executives aren’t fully embracing consumers’ increased scrutiny of the company behind the products they buy. While more than eight in 10 single-brand executives recognize that consumers are increasingly checking labels and doing research to identify the company behind the brand, significantly fewer multi-brand executives recognize how proactive and discerning consumers are about what they buy.
|Percent completely/mostly agree…||
|More and more, consumers are checking labels to see what company is behind the product they are buying||
|More and more, consumers are doing research to learn about the companies that make the products they buy||
* indicates the group is significantly higher
The second surprise was that despite the fact that multi-brand executives say they are promoting company reputation as much as product reputation (81 percent and 80 percent, respectively), they fall short in communicating some key drivers of company reputation compared to their single-brand counterparts, particularly how employees are treated. There was a particularly large gap between single- and multi-brand companies when it comes to communicating about their workplace (73 percent vs. 52 percent, respectively). Companies that are proud of their records for employee satisfaction should not be reluctant to communicate these qualities and tout their awards or placement on ‘best of’ lists. These credentials help drive the overall reputation of a company, regardless of how many brands it markets, and possibly influence purchasing behavior.
Take a look at the summary for greater detail. When I was talking to PRWeek about the findings, they said they were surprised how little information was available on this topic. We agree. When we did the background research on the increasing indivisibility of the corporate and brand reputation today, we were floored by how little had been done and how companies had been relying on “this is how we’ve done it” thinking. We hope that we at Weber Shandwick are filling in some critical gaps on this dimension of corporate vs. brand reputation in a no-secrets-consumer-is-in-the-driver’s-seat Internet world.
Every year, we at Weber Shandwick work with executive recruiter Spencer Stuart to survey worldwide CCOs (chief communciations officers) about the challenges and opportunities facing them. The survey is called The Rising CCO. It is a subject that I have always been very interested in. My interest does not stem solely from being in the public relations industry but in the complexity of the communications position today. How a company communications in good times and bad speaks volumes about the management, its values and its attention to the public trust. This year, as in other years, we asked about the impact of social media on CCO positions, what senior managment expects from them, how their effectiveness if measured, the number of board meetings they attend, the qualities needed to be successful, crisis management and a host of others. Here’s one fact for today that has to do with reputation. I will continue to discuss some others that are reputation-related.
We learned from CCOs that improving corporate reputation tops the list of senior management’s expectations for corporate communications this year, as reported by approximately two-thirds of global CCOs (65%). This focus on reputation was followed by obtaining positive media coverage (60%) and increased support of brand reputation/marketing (56%). This prominence for reputation is not surprising given that reputational crisis is practically a fact of life for large companies globally – nearly three-quarters of CCOs (71%) experienced a crisis threatening their reputation in the past two years. I was not surprised either by how important positive media coverage is although I know how difficult that is to secure enough of what will please a CEO. Quantity and quality always matter at the top.
More to come on other interesting feedback from the study.
Because I am off from work for the holiday, I have a little time to catch up on things I meant to read in the months before. I was particularly interested in some research on CEO transitions and its impact on the value of the enterprise conducted by FTI. A few facts jumped out at me from their study among the financial community. They found that one-third (32%) of investor decisions are impacted by the reputation of the CEO. Moreover, the reputation of the CEO was more important to investors than the reputation of the company’s products and services.
The research covers the value at risk depending on what type of CEO transition occurred. The greatest risk to the enterprise is when a CEO is forced to resign.
Because of my work on CEO tenures and how to build CEO reputation, the findings confirm my own research over the years that CEOs need to show success by that 12 month marker. FIT found that investors give new CEOs about six months to assess the challenges and opportunities facing the company, setting a vision and strategy. They give new CEOs more leeway to improve market performance and valuation — about 12 months. After the first year, all engines need to be firing.
Another particularly interesting finding was what investors look at in their first 100 days to further establish the CEOs credibility in their eyes….here is what they said was of “significant importance.” Despite the ranking for “charisma,” it is still interesting that it is still estimated to be of high importance and only 16% said it was of limited importance. FTI concludes that investors take a multi-dimensional view of new CEOs. They expect to see it all.
|During First 100 Days Of A New CEO||“Significant importance”|
|Grasp of the company’s challenges and opportunities||96%|
|Knowledge of/experience with industry dynamics||92|
|A strategic plan||88|
MIT Sloan Management Review and Boston Consulting just launched a new study that found that nearly 7 in 10 companies intend to accelerate their investment in sustainability this year. The global survey among 3,100 corporate leaders also found that improved brand reputation is the biggest benefit of addressing sustainability….nearly 50% agree that this is true. Brand reputation seems to be the bottom line these days.
Came across an interesting statement about CEOs this morning. It was in a Justmeans blog post about how CSR needs to get more humanized, meaning making a stronger link between the CSR director or manager with a company’s CSR initiatives and thereby giving it a face. The author Akhila Vijayaraghavan wrote:
This year will see the beginning of a shift from CSR itself to the CSR practitioner. Just like brand image is beginning to collate itself with CEO image, so will CSR with the CSR practitioner/manager. I believe this could be an important trend because putting a ‘face’ on CSR makes it not so ‘corporate’. CSR practitioners deal with far-reaching environmental, social and ethical issues on a daily basis that are profoundly human. Taking the corporate out of CSR will bring to the spotlight of what the people in businesses are really capable of . This is a good thing not just for CSR but also CSR practitioners.
As a long-time CEO reputation watcher and if I understand what she meant in her post (people often speak about brand and corporate reputation/image in the same breath), brands — not just corporations — will increasingly be linked with CEOs. For many years, the research I did found that nearly one half of a company’s reputation was tied to that of its CEO. However, the reputation of the brand was not as tightly correlated until the Internet came along and changed the game. Now that anyone anywhere can find out the parent company of a brand and also who its CEO is, that is most probably changing. And I expect it will change quickly.
I caught up on some articles I was meaning to read over the long weekend. Here’s one worth noting when it comes to managing reputation online. Since we have extensively researched how executives manage their online reputations, I find everything that makes it easier to do so worthwhile reading. However, I wonder how anyone has the time to do all this and get their jobs done.
Robert Scoble in Fast Company says that “Reputations are created and destroyed online in the speed of 140 characters.” He is obviously referring to Twitter and the common phrase today that reputation can be created (Susan Boyle) and destroyed overnight (Bernie Madoff). Scoble recommends seven tools available online, of course, for companies to monitor their reputations online. Thanks for the great list.
TweetDeck – the must have dashboard for the Twitter set (free) to determine what’s being said about you in the Twitter and other worlds
Scout Labs – the sentiment and tone in which your brand reputation is being spoken about online (not free)
BlogPulse – taking the pulse on your reputation using keywords and a easy to use charting (free from Nielsen Online)
Vanno – “It’s Digg for reputation.” (free)
CoTweet – multiple users can tweet from one user name (free) and manage your company reputation