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A: We’re blessed in the Twin Cities with some great role models. We have companies and organizations trying hard to be part of the community. Target, the Twins and the University of Minnesota are good citizens and have built rapport with the community. People have positive impressions of these organizations. Look at Best Buy. Here’s an organization that’s been innovative from Day 1. It built a great brand and reputation and yet they’ve hit some snags. We have a tendency to be Monday-morning quarterbacks and there generally is more to the story than any of us know. If ever there was an organization that could be better suited to regain its positivity, then Best Buy is the one. It’s part of their core, part of their DNA. In the marketplace, things are changing all the time. Communication today is so rapid you find yourself being reactive. That’s when quality and integrity come forward. The game changes and you have to be ready to change your strategy.
Q: Is there a connection between brand reputation and the reputation of the company that produces the product?
A: We’re hearing a lot about the role culture plays in brand reputation. For the first time we’re seeing a real shift in the thinking that corporate brand is as important as the brand itself. Corporate leadership matters. We have expectations. You also have to make sure employees know what they can say about a brand because they are getting questions out there. It’s best to immerse employees in the company story. Best Buy historically was one of the first companies to establish a reputation function within the organization that goes beyond the HR component and encourages the staff to be a positive voice in social media.
Q: Can you talk about the annual Edelman Trust Survey? Banks and financial institutions did not fare very well in that report.
A: Whenever money is involved, you see increased scrutiny by consumers. We know a little bit about money but not a lot about financial markets. There have been some big mistakes and people lost money and trust has eroded. It takes time to get that trust back and a willingness of the institutions to reach out.
Q: A recent report on brand reputation by Weber Shandwick notes that consumers shape brand reputation instantly and that brand reputation has a direct effect on a company’s bottom line. True?
A: From the swipe of a smartphone to a comment on Twitter, we are all reporters and purveyors of news now. That can make a difference in how information is spread. It used to be that awareness was a primary goal for a brand. We know today that awareness alone is not enough.Awareness alone doesn’t translate into bottom-line activity. However, experience — and research backs this up — shows that corporate reputation is just as important as product/service branding because consumers base buying decisions and share recommendations with others on what they know about a particular company.
David Phelps • 612-673-7269