Brand vs Corporate Reputation

January 03, 2009

Brand vs Corporate Reputation

See full size imageWhile I was at the copier machine before the holidays, I spotted an article about the difference between brand and corporate reputation.  I went online to find myself a copy.  A question on the difference between the two is commonly asked of me and I have perfected my answer. I usually say that brand reputation is produced when a product or service promise is delivered and a customer decides to rebuy that item. I then proceed to say that corporate reputation is produced when what a company stands for generates stakeholders’ support—stakeholders are more likely to raise capital, recommend the firm as a good place to work, earn the benefit of the doubt when under pressure from the media, spread positive word of mouth, attract partners, ease relations with regulators and government, etc. The two are similar in that they both include consumer perceptions and advocacy. The article by Richard Ettenson and Jonathan Knowles in MITSloan Management Review does an excellent job of explaining what I have been saying. They say:

“Simply put, brand is a ‘customercentric’ concept that focuses on what a product, service or company has promised to its customers and what that commitment means to them. Reputation is a ‘companycentric’ concept that focuses on the credibility and respect than an organization has among a broad set of constituencies, including employees, investors, regulators, journalists and local communities—as well as customers.”

Well-said. I like the customer and company-centric idea. I agree with their statement that the two are highly interrelated which also explains the frequency of this question. Damage to one harms the other. The symbiotic relationship is even more prominent with the advent of the Internet. A company that makes tainted dog food and human food can now easily be found out and not everyone likes to think about the two food types being manufactured by the same company. A poorly handled product recall makes consumers think poorly of the company and that could support their supportive behavior. A company that does not support climate change might convince drivers to bypass their products.

Hope this helps clarify the differences and the similarities of brand and corporate reputation.













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Leslie Gaines-Ross
Leslie Gaines-Ross

As Weber Shandwick’s Chief Reputation Strategist, I focus on the ever changing world of reputation. For the past 25 years, I have relentlessly observed, researched and commented on the rise and fall of reputations.


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