By Andrew Lester

A company’s corporate reputation is often confused with its product brand. Whilst closely related they are not the same thing. They both refer to a type of “trust”. Some companies have well known product brands and differentiated corporate reputations. In other cases the company brand and the corporate brand are much closer. Think of the difference between Bentley cars and the company (very close), compared to PG Tips, Flora and Sure all of which are product brands and part of the Unilever Company

A company’s corporate reputation is the sum of all the views and beliefs held about the company based on its history and its future prospects, in comparison to close competitors. Corporate reputation is a relative assessment which by definition is fuzzy and variable. Whilst there may be a weight of opinion to an overall position, there will also be people with very different (more extreme) views.

So who holds these views and who drives a company’s reputation? The key people who assess reputation are: your customers, your employees, your shareholders, competitors, trade bodies and other businesses and influential people in your sector. The key things that you do which drive your reputation are simply: your company values, the products or services you offer, the people you employ and how well they work as a team, and the processes that help you run the business.

The chart above shows all the different influences on a company’s reputation — they hold views or directly influence the views on the company. Managing your company reputation is increasingly important for all companies including Small to Medium Sized Enterprises, the 'Measuring Your Reputation: Taking Action' article covers how to measure it and take action to improve and protect your reputation.

To comment or ask questions email: andrewlester@carr-michael.com.

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