Brand management vs reputation management – what's the difference?

Working for a brand with an online presence means you are constantly in the public view. Everyone and anyone can get in touch with your business at just the click of a button, so you need to ensure you’re doing everything you can to make your brand image the best it can be in the eyes of the customer.

Managing the way your brand is perceived can not only grow sales, it can improve public perception and brand awareness. Here, we take a look at the key differences between brand management and reputation management, and how you can use them to your advantage.

What is brand management?

Brand management is a marketing practice consisting of methodically improving the perceived value of your brand and its products. This is achieved over time by developing a strategic plan revolving around your company’s vision, brand values, and the intended target market.

There are two sides to brand management:

  • The tangible side of brand management includes physical aspects such as the products, price, logo, brand name and packaging.
  • The intangible side of brand management encompasses emotional aspects such as building a particular brand image, brand personality and the ability to influence customers.

These should both coincide and provide consumers with a clear, consistent feel for your brand that they can connect with. When this is done effectively, people will have a strong awareness of your brand and associate it with positive traits or emotions. This in turn creates a loyal customer base, which allows you to build brand equity and increase your revenue. You may even find that you can increase the prices of your products or services, due to a higher perceived brand value. This makes brand management a worthwhile practice that can drive both growth and profits.

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What is reputation management and how can you control it?

Reputation management is slightly different, as it's intended to influence public perception of a company. The idea originated as a PR term but has evolved alongside the growth of digitalisation and social media, as reputation management is now primarily conducted online and is commonly referred to as online reputation management (ORM).

Reputation management incorporates practices such as search engine optimisation (SEO) to influence online search results and shape brand perception using carefully curated content. Ranking highly on search engine results pages (SERPs) can make your brand look knowledgeable about your subject matter, showing that you're an authoritative figure in your industry. Social media is also an important platform when it comes to reputation management. It's vital to monitor and manage user-generated content such as reviews and social chatter, as negative comments that aren't addressed can damage your brand reputation. 

Reputation management is a continuous process that typically involves the following steps:

  1. Monitoring online reputation: This can be done with social listening platforms or with the help of image and ORM-building companies. You can monitor @mentions and #keywords, as well as direct feedback left on review sites. It's important to understand what your customers are saying about you and your products, particularly since shoppers now rely on online reviews and influencer opinions to make informed purchase decisions.
  2. Developing a response plan: This should incorporate the designation of one or more team members to respond to reviews, as well as developing a best-practice plan to tackle the negatives and emphasise the positives.
  3. Tackling negative comments sensitively: This is important as it can help avoid further escalations and can even allow you to win back customers. Handling negative comments should be done with a polite, professional, and friendly approach that gives solutions to any problems.
  4. Building on the positives: Emphasise the positives by integrating them into your wider marketing efforts. Create new and relevant online content that is SEO optimised to minimise any negative reviews and showcase the qualities that your satisfied customers appreciate about your brand and products.
  5. Continuously monitoring online reputation and measuring results: Carry on using social listening software to monitor the evolution of your reputation and measure the success of your efforts. It’s important that you keep an eye on how your brand is being talked about online in order to remain proactive and maintain a positive reputation in the long term.

Hopefully the above steps help you get started, but successful reputation management is a continuous practice that should be consistently carried out once you have established a clear process.

The difference between brand and reputation management

The fundamental difference between brand management and reputation management is in the name itself. Brand management covers wider responsibilities from managing products, general marketing, brand philosophy and brand image. Reputation management solely focuses on managing and building a positive reputation, as well as finding solutions for unhappy customers and resolving any issues.

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Which one is more important?

Brand management and reputation management are both important for the success of your business. However, as we mentioned above, brand management is a more complex task that encompasses a lot of other marketing disciplines and projects.

It’s important to note that reputation management can sometimes be more relevant for certain companies, such as those that have suffered hardship through significant negative press and damaging online conversations. Initially concentrating on burying such negative perceptions will help create a strong foundation to support future brand management efforts.

Tools that can help to monitor reputation management

Too many businesses ignore online conversations and shy away from uncovering negative opinions. However, reputation management is crucial to the success of a business as it can help you fully understand the positive and negative perceptions of your company and products. This doesn't only help you build successful marketing campaigns around these perceptions, it also allows you to resolve issues before they escalate. There are a number of platforms and services you can use to facilitate your reputation management efforts.

Social listening platforms

Social listening platforms are highly effective in supporting brand reputation management efforts. They work by scanning the web for any mentions of a given brand or company name and flagging them to you. This helps you understand how people feel about your brand and products, as well as identify the positive and negative points you need to work on. Positive comments can be utilised within brand management practices to show perceived brand qualities, while negative comments can be addressed promptly to avoid any potential escalation.

Popular social listening platforms include:

Awario

This platform gathers all mentions of your brand on the web (including social media platforms). Find sales opportunities, monitor competitors, and identify potential influencers who may endorse your brand. Awario’s convenient dashboard gives you valuable data analysis and highlights your progress over time.

Hootsuite

Hootsuite is a social media marketing and management platform. Its 'Monitor' tools allows you to follow topics, brand mentions, hashtags, keywords and more.

Google Alerts

Google Alerts allows you to monitor the entire web for any relevant subject or keyword. These can include alerts for mentions of your company, competitors, industry, or any other subject matter relevant to your business.

Agorapulse

This tool tracks mentions of your company on social media and lets you assign tasks to team members accordingly. Agorapulse also allows you to seamlessly identify and contact potential influencers.

Mention

Mention is a tool that analyses mentions of your brand, your competitors, and related industry topics. This allows you to assess consumer opinions as well as relevant trending topics.

Brandwatch

This is one of the most powerful (and most costly) social listening platforms. In addition to monitoring brand mentions, Brandwatch also provides image analysis and data on your audiences' demographics and trending niche topics. Its data visualisation dashboard allows you to view insights from a number of integrations – including Hootsuite and Buzzsumo.

Keyhole

Keyhole’s real-time conversation tracker gathers all the mentions of your brand on social media. Its integrated analytics allows you to make data-driven marketing decisions.

Buzzsumo

This cloud-based platform monitors social media conversations, generates ideas for potential high-performing content, and analyses the performance of your content. Buzzsumo is particularly beneficial if you're looking to increase social engagement.

Reputology

This is a valuable tool for companies that are primarily looking to focus on review sites. Reputology allows you to view and manage all your online review profiles, thereby making it a little bit easier to monitor your reputation across a range of platforms.

Image and ORM-building companies

Companies seeking the help of image and ORM-building companies typically experience issues such as:

  • Negative reviews
  • Damaging competitor comparison articles
  • Bad press (about the company, products, practices, or stakeholders)
  • Brand ambiguity
  • Underrepresented online presence

These are just some of the most common issues encountered by companies experiencing reputation problems. They can, however, be tackled effectively with professional assistance.

Image and ORM-building companies are typically PR agencies that can provide a 360-degree approach to brand image and online reputation management. In fact, such agencies can develop a detailed ORM strategy combining elements of PR, SEO, and content marketing. They can help boost your positive feedback by creating relevant and high-performance campaigns that you can run throughout the year, as well as battle the negatives.

Popular image and ORM-building companies include:

Webimax

Webimax offer services centred around removing negative content where possible and making it more difficult to find. They also help to generate positive content that outranks the negatives. This company’s services are, therefore, particularly valuable for organisations that have suffered from a bad reputation and recent negative press. A dedicated campaign manager will be assigned to your company to build a tailored strategy.

Reputation Rhino

Popular online reputation manager, Reputation Rhino, are used by large companies worldwide. They're highly efficient in the quick scanning and removal of negative reviews, damaging press and other online content that is potentially harmful to a company’s reputation. This online platform also helps create high-performance content and optimised web pages.

Konnect Insights

Konnect Insights offers a unified platform that combines social listening with ORM, meaning you will have access to multiple functionalities under one tool (including social CRM, publishing, surveys, crisis management, social analytics and more). The dashboard provides an overview and analysis of the data gathered by the system. The information can also be downloaded in the form of customised reports.

Igniyte

This crisis management brand is known globally and employs teams that are specialised in different industries. This expert industry-specific knowledge combined with detailed research on your company’s history and online presence allows for the creation of highly efficient tailored solutions. Igniyte searches will mainly focus on negative reviews, comments, press and other types of damaging content to address relevant issues and improve a company’s reputation.

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Podium

This user-friendly platform concentrates on the management of reviews. Podium allows companies to monitor new reviews and easily respond to them.

As these companies specialise in different aspects of reputation management, you can choose the right ORM-building company for your business depending on your company’s current situation and needs.

Summary

Brand management and reputation management are both integral parts of day-to-day business activities. While brand management encompasses various elements of marketing, reputation management is more focused on online PR-related activities. Currently, such activities primarily revolve around SEO and social media undertakings. This is largely due to the growth of the internet and social media platforms, which allows consumers to freely voice their opinions on companies, brands, and products. While this can generate positive views and self-proclaimed brand ambassadors, it can also lead to negative press that anyone can find. Reputation management is particularly important to steer consumers away from negative content and damaging online conversations.

Combined with effective brand management, reputation management can lead to a positive and legitimate brand image


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