Reputation management and brand enhancement efforts affect countless companies - from Fortune 100 brands to small business start-ups.
The reason is simple: In today's consumer landscape, reputation is everything.
Consumers are more than willing to do their due diligence, conduct a bit of online research about any given company, and to use the information gleaned to inform their purchasing decisions.
Related: Improve your online reputation with help from our online marketing vendors
The most successful companies are the ones with the best reputations - and rest assured that those brands did not develop their sterling reputations on accident.
By reviewing the practices of the more reputable companies, the rest of us can learn some important, actionable lessons about what it means to maintain a positive corporate identity.
Amazon.com is a company known for many things - for its ubiquity, for its meteoric rise and its technical innovations - but more than anything else, the company is known for its commitment to customers. That's a perception that Amazon has carefully cultivated; look no further than to the smiley face-emblazoned logo that the company proudly displays on its TV ads, suggesting that what it's selling isn't books or DVDs so much as consumer happiness. The company also places a lot of stock on its customer service initiatives -- and it's clearly paying off.
- The lesson learned here is that cultivating a reputation for customer-centeredness may be the most effective marketing strategy that any company could ever hope to enact.
Apple's stocks have taken a dive in recent months, and investors are not entirely happily with the direction the company has taken. Consumers still love it, though, and it consistently comes in at the top of Most Reputable Company lists. Again, the secret is in its commitment to service.
- Apple's customer service team commands excellent ratings across the board, and that is what fuels the brand's positive reputation.
From Disney, meanwhile, companies can learn the importance of a strong, emotional appeal. Outside of Amazon, no company is said to elicit the same kinds of positive emotions as Disney. Its advertising goes straight for the heartstrings, showing happy kids and loving families - and if that all sounds a little sappy, well, it's obviously not ineffective! Your business may not have an amusement park or a lineup of beloved kids' movies associated with it, but you can nevertheless pluck the heartstrings in your marketing.
- Something as simple as posting behind-the-scenes photos of your team online can create a strong emotional resonance.
Google's positive reputation is attributable to many factors, but one of them that other companies can learn from is this: Google is universally heralded as a great place to work. It has a reputation for treating its employees well, which in turn makes consumers happy; after all, most of us would prefer not to give our money to businesses that we know mistreat their employees.
- What your employees think about your company matters. Keeping morale high - and making sure the world knows it - is not just good for HR, but for PR as well.
Johnson & Johnson
Finally, Johnson & Johnson warrants a mention because - despite product recalls and internal tumult - the company has maintained a pristine reputation in recent years. It largely comes down to the company's social responsibility; Johnson & Johnson is well known for its contributions to various healthcare initiatives.
That's a final tip for companies everywhere: Give to charity and support worthy causes - and make sure consumers know about it!
Bio: Mike Zammuto became President and COO of www.reputationchanger.com in the fall of 2012. The company offers services for online reputation repair as well as a variety of additional reputation management services.