The Complex nature of reputation

Alan Mitchell in “Devising a brand new experience” (MW January 19) was lost for a word to describe the full breadth of elements that combine to make or break a brand. Let me help him out. The beast which still does not have a proper name is called reputation. It may not be a new word (apologies to the seekers of new jargon) but it is the correct word.

Reputation is broad and deep. It is based on reality; the unique combination of person and peer group experience of all the marketing elements that comprise a brand. That reputation is reinforced (or otherwise) by the actions and attitudes of the people working for and with the brand – not just brand marketing and promotional teams, but the manufacturing sales or service people – everyone with a stake in and contribution to make.

Building a brand on the solid foundation of its reputation rather than the simpler, traditional, one-dimensional image, is no task for the faint-hearted. It requires the brand values to be policed and protected as well as promoted; committed as well as communicated; defended as well as decorated.

More revolutionary than all that, it needs the support of every function in the organisation, through a consistent programme and messages, not just through ad hoc campaigns.

To many marketers, this is revolutionary talk – a symbol of the ever-broader spread of this life-giving discipline throughout organisations. To the more enlightened, it was ever thus and managing reputation was always the interface between marketing and the other management disciplines. Its other functional name was (and is) public relations.

For those who doubt me, check the definition of the discipline. You will find that public relations is the management of reputation. Let’s not argue about turf, let’s just work together as multidisciplinary professionals to deliver the commercial imperative – successful brands.

Carol Friend

Managing director

Pielle Public Relations

London WC1

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