For many companies, their most mission-critical asset is their brand. It defines their reputation and helps them stand out in an over-crowded marketplace, particularly one bloated by social networks, e-commerce and the competition of real-time supply-chain architectures.
Brand risk is therefore a potent danger that all of us face. But by its nature, sandboxing your brand, unless you live by the ocean or a large quarry, is a goal that many find one of the most elusive. Many talk the talk of strategizing reputation, but how easy is it to walk the walk?
Key is how to measure the impact of infrastructure or product changes on your brand in the marketplace, especially at moments when your business fails to deliver, launches buggy software, or serves Würst without the sauerkraut.
Many of us hire or contract experts from PR to inflate our brands at every corner, whether we're riding high or in a time of crisis. However, brand and reputation will remain forever so nebulous that it's just as easy to ignore such self-promotion. But at what cost?
Ultimately, in today's world of bleeding-edge communication networks, responsiveness and honesty are key. When relaying problems or delays to your customers or suppliers, speed and accuracy matter, and identifying the key impacted stakeholders is paramount.
Easier said than done. Such a strategy requires strong and effective leadership, to manage the conflicting expectations of customers and the business itself. But it also requires those leaders to know what's going on in the engine room. A strong brand requires an equally strong foundation of open communication within the organization that owns it.
Seldom do investors quiz the board at the AGM about reputation and brand, until, that is, something goes disastrously wrong.
Build the right internal culture and commit to open and honest communication with your customers, and goodwill, the cornerstone of sandboxing your brand, will surely follow.