How much reputation capital does your business have?

In our first month as Delphi, we have been having lots of conversations with comms leaders and CEOs about how they can future proof and manage their reputation in tough times. And it got me thinking about reputation capital…

When I worked in the Middle East one of my clients was the Franklin Covey Institute and as an Account Director, I was lucky enough to do the full 7Habits course. I use so many of these habits in my everyday life but the concept that most stuck with me is the idea of the Emotional Bank Account – in other words the amount of trust that’s been built up in a relationship.

The course introduces the idea that by proactively doing things that build trust in a relationship, one makes ‘deposits’; but by doing things that negatively impact the relationship, you are making a withdrawal. Once your balance is zero your relationship is in trouble and if you go into your overdraft, you are in a real trouble!

And I think Reputation Capital should be viewed in the same way!

For business it all boils down to one word: Trust. How much do people trust your business and trust in what you can deliver for them?

This is your reputation capital, and it is something you can control and manage. You should constantly be making deposits that increase it.

This is both a proactive strategy to ensure you succeed as a business but also a defensive strategy – because when you must make a withdrawal against that reputation capital (and you will have to at some point!) you have enough in your account to weather the storm.

As we know, trust can’t be built overnight, and once you’ve earned it that doesn’t mean you will have it indefinitely. Which is why I find the bank account metaphor so useful. Reputation capital is interactive – an ever-changing dynamic.

So here are five principles for earning and sustaining healthy reputation capital in your business:

  1. What is your RR? It is not enough to just want to have a ‘good’ reputation! Or be seen to be doing a lot of ‘things’ well. Take the time to define what your Reputational Requirement really is – how do you need to be seen by your core audiences in order to achieve growth?…his starts with analysing and aligning what you offer with what your audience needs; your market conditions; and what your competitors are doing.
  2. Remember EVERYTHING is comms: Withdrawals from and deposits into your reputation bank account will happen whether you want them to or not, with every interaction you have directly and indirectly with your audience! From the content you proactively share, to the customer service you offer, all the way through what your employees say about the company at the weekend – it all affects your reputation capital. This means you must have complete alignment internally on what reputation you need and ensure every department has a strategy that build it!
  3. Invest to accumulate: Reputation capital is built up steadily over time, but there are ways you can make a massive deposit in one go. This could be around a purpose-driven initiative or a new product, but the key is alignment and integration across multiple channels to ensure greater impact by surrounding your audience.
  4. Minimise the impact of your withdrawals: A withdrawal could be anything from the announcement of redundancies to a full product recall or a cyber security breach, but whatever it is the way it is handled will minimise the impact on the capital you have built in the company’s reputation.
  5. Check your account regularly! Reputation is an intangible asset – and while it can make or break a business it is hard to measure, which means it can be overlooked or under invested in. But if you think about reputation in terms of capital it can be easier to quantify and it is formed of many different components that can be Put the right metrics in place that enable you to check your balance often and understand what deposits you need to make.

Get in touch if you want to chat about your company’s reputation capital and how you can build and keep it.



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