Pulse of the Profession

Friday Five: Corporate Reputation and Brand Perception – Two Sides of the Same Coin

Brands are beginning to see the value in investing internally in their corporate reputation as it plays a very influential role in how brand products are perceived. Maintaining a strong corporate reputation is especially challenging with the numerous conversations taking place online via social media channels. So how do brands know what’s important and what’s not? The true value of monitoring social media exchanges via Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn lies in the ability to attribute these findings to a corporation’s bottom line. How customers perceive a brand/company greatly impacts sales, brand loyalty, and future branded products that come from any company.

In this week’s PRSA “Friday Five” post — an analysis of the week’s biggest public relations and business news and commentary — we delve into Weber Shandwick’s report on corporate reputation and the reputation of brand products. We will also look at the importance of monitoring social media for the sake of maintaining a valid scope and measurement of what’s being said about a brand and how it can contribute to a company’s bigger picture. Finally, we explore the idea of perception as it relates to a brand’s image by taking a closer look at two technology giants, Apple and Microsoft.

Corporate Reputation As Important As Product Brand

Did you know that 75 percent 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? Weber Shandwick and KRC Research recently released findings from a survey they conducted, “The Company Behind the Brand: In Reputation We Trust,” and they found that a majority of the companies surveyed have increased their corporate reputation-building efforts in the past few years. Encouraging brands to be more transparent about their ownership of multiple brand names is no surprise with a number of recent consumer brand crises involving this very issue.

Corporate Reputation and Single vs. Multiple Brands

PR News’ Scott Van Camp highlighted some important statistics from Weber Shandwick’s report. 575 executives were polled worldwide and 92 percent of the respondents from “single brand” firms find that improving their reputation at the corporate level is just as important as maintaining a strong standing of their products. Only 75 percent of “multiple brands” executives agreed over the importance of matching corporate reputation and product brand. Other intriguing statistics from the report included:

  • “87% of businesses from single-brand companies actively promote and communicate the reputation of their company, as opposed to 80% from the multiple-brand companies.”
  • “61% of respondents from firms selling products under one name would rather see news showing they were listed in “most admired” rankings than for strong share-price forecasts. This figure fell to 49% among the multiple brands.”

Your Brand Is Missing the Mark On Social Monitoring for Negative Feedback

Brands are seeing the importance of improving their corporate reputation to create a more sustainable foundation for their brand products. Reputation enhancement can be a challenge especially with the increased interest in monitoring negative feedback found on social channels, and too many brands are missing the mark in this area. Focusing on only negative remarks yields limited returns. Business 2 Community’s Adam Leiter advises brands to take the information they find, good and bad, and apply it to their broader strategy.

The Unspoken Truth About Apple

Apple has created a brand identity unlike any other company in the technology industry. The brand’s products correspond with high-quality, high-end devices, and a high-tech “cool” factor. CNN Money contributor Don Register questions whether Apple’s reputation is warranted or if it is all just a bunch of hype. Information technology experts know that they can buy products that will work just as well for less money from other technology companies. Whether or not Apple’s reputation is unwarranted, people believe that Apple is the delivering the very best in terms of quality and value, and as long as Apple is able to maintain such a strong reputation and increase brand loyalty, they will continue come out the winner.

Microsoft: Innovation Without Recognition

Microsoft is another great example of reputation influenced by brand perception. Though Microsoft has been perceived as the typical brainiac tech company minus any and all cool points, recently the company’s products have proven to be one of the most stylish, design-forward companies in the technology industry. Unlike Apple’s perception, which improves their brand reputation, Microsoft’s reputation is heavily affected by what the company was once known for, including Windows Vista, Clippy and Paperclip, and the bulletproof toolbar of Microsoft Word. While Microsoft is building some truly innovative products, the uptick in popularity and sales seems to be dwindling. Many of the new products will be coming to market soon and may significantly change the perception of the company and overcome the history of Microsoft.

Nicole Castro is the public relations associate at the Public Relations Society of America.

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