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5 imperatives to protect your brand online

BP, Google, Amazon, Starbucks, Volkswagen and Mossack Fonseca all have one thing in common: reputational damage.  Over the past 12 months, despite their best efforts and millions invested in reputation and brand management, each of these companies has suffered damage to how they’re perceived across cultural and geographic boundaries.

Managing the global/local dilemma is no easy feat in today’s social media-laden instant society, with tweet-happy consumers holding brands more accountable than ever before.

So how what can companies operating internationally do to hold onto their reputations?

  • Track everything.  Forget the divide between online and offline – in today’s world everything counts.  Creating a daily snapshot of the landscape and what’s being said about your brand that can be readily communicated to the whole organisation is an essential tool.
  • Check assumptions.  What plays well in London may not work in Los Angeles as not only are there language differences across cultures, there are cultural messages to consider.
  • Manage your CEO.  In recent years, many CEOs have become poster children for what not to do.  CEOs need to be educated about the impact of throw-away remarks that can impact share prices as well as consumer trust.
  • Align your Comms, Marketing and Sales functions.  In most organisations, these functions stay in their silos, yet their actions directly impact each other. Strategic alignment will maximize their efficacy, while building a united external organizational voice.
  • Rethink your stakeholders.  Many companies have too narrow a definition of their stakeholders, focusing on the traditional.  In the new landscape, companies must consider stakeholders of all types.  Consider including bloggers, vloggers and expert pundits whose views are increasingly influential, shaping public and corporate policy.

So what does this mean for those looking after corporate and brand image?  Don’t take your reputation for granted.  Given the ease with which it can be disrupted, a cooperative, holistic approach is essential.

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