How Does Reputation Help a Company be More Competitive?


How does reputation help a company be more competitive? Quite simply, it boils down to this: Your client's reputation determines how much both current and potential customers feel they can trust the company.

Reputations of corporate America took a big hit last year. This news comes to us from the Reputation Institute. Between last year and this year, the percentage of consumers who trust top companies to do the right thing fell from 62% to 49%. Your clients may not be Fortune 500 companies, but the research holds important clues about people's feelings when it comes to businesses. And, these feelings impact the bottom line.

How Does Reputation Help a Company be More Competitive?

Researchers asked consumers specific questions about company perceptions and found declines in the following categories. Note that 2017 scores appear in parens:

  • Delivers a consistent experience 69% (56%)
  • Trusted to do the right thing 62% (49%)
  • Genuine about what it says/​stands for 64% (48%)
  • Stands out from the crowd 61% (47%)
  • Deserves benefit of doubt 56% (41%)
  • Provides information about activities 48% (31%)
  • Communicates often 43% (28%)
  • Welcomes open discussion 41% (24%)

Consumers report that they value top products and services most when considering a brand’s reputation. They also want companies to demonstrate decent governance. Often, it’s the CEO or business owner who is the face of the company. When that individual doesn’t appear to be forthcoming, the company's reputation as a whole suffers.

In addition, consumers like brands that share the values they aspire to reflect. This year, the scores for desired brand traits aren’t high. They range from modern (39%) and genuine (34%) to sincere (22%) and caring (19%).

Consumers consider a variety of sources when they evaluate companies. Their direct experience, such as buying a product in the physical store, counts heavily. The impact of that experience remained relatively flat in the past year. Earned media, such as social media buzz, has a smaller impact on consumers, but it is increasing in importance. Consumers are also paying more attention to other channels, such as owned and traditional media. Your clients must work hard consistently in all of these areas to win consumer confidence and business.

Your clients should also know that more men than women are losing confidence in top brands. Reputation scores fell most significantly in the young mid-​lifers age group in the past year. These consumers have been more likely to be influenced by digital and social media than older consumers. How does reputation help a company be more competitive? A good reputation will now give your client a leg up on bigger companies that haven't been paying enough attention to their reputations.

While this study focused on large companies, smaller businesses could be feeling the reputation hit, too. For more insight into how well your prospect's digital reputation aligns with the sites most frequently used by its target audience, check out the Digital Audit available on AdMall from Salesfuel. Then, talk with your prospect about how your services can help to improve their reputation.

Kathy Crosett
Kathy is the Vice President of Research for SalesFuel. She holds a Masters in Business Administration from the University of Vermont and oversees a staff of researchers, writers and content providers for SalesFuel. Previously, she was co-​owner of several small businesses in the health care services sector.