Corporate Image Management matters more now than ever.
Corporate reputations impact brand and product sales performance. That’s one of the key findings from a recent global study by Weber Shandwick called The Company Behind the Brand: In Reputation We Trust.
As the survey report states, “As consumers around the world have greater online access to a brand’s lineage, the influence of the brand parent, or company behind the brand, matters even more.”
The study identified Six New Realities of Corporate Reputation, which the PR firm says serves as reminders that business leaders cannot view their company’s reputation and their product brands as separately as they once did. These six “new realities” are:
1. The corporate brand is as important as the product brand(s).
2. Corporate reputation provides product quality assurance.
3. Any disconnect between corporate and product reputation triggers sharp consumer reaction.
4. Products drive customer discussions, with reputation close behind.
5. Consumers shape corporate reputations instantly.
6. Corporate reputation contributes to company market value.
In actuality, none of these are truly “new” realities, other than perhaps the ability of consumers to now shape corporate reputations instantly via social media.
All were highlighted, in one way or another, in my book Corporate Image Management: A Marketing Discipline which was published in 1998.
However, today’s more conversant and knowledgeable consumer is more aware of the companies behind branded products and services. They are also more informed and responsive to the actions of these companies.
The study showed that 67% of consumers report that they increasingly check product labels to see what company is behind the product they are buying, and a full 56% will hesitate to buy a product if they cannot tell who makes it.
Plus, as we highlighted in this week’s Monday Morning Marketing Memo, a walloping 70% of the consumers surveyed in this study reported that they avoid buying a product if they do not like the company behind the product.
This survey confirms that what I wrote 14 years ago in Corporate Image Management still rings true today: the ultimate battleground for winning and maintaining customer relationships takes place in the minds, hearts, emotions, and perceptions of customers.
Which is why corporate reputations matter more than ever.