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Reputation Management


The maintenance of a good corporate reputation in today’s febrile multimedia age is no easy task – not least because the needs of a company’s various stakeholders are all too often contradictory. Investors may seek cost efficiencies which boost earnings and dividends whilst employees seek job security. The need to boost the resource base, especially for oil and gas companies, will often conflict with the needs of local communities and environmentalists. And in some industries, like tobacco, the very nature of the business activity itself can be hard to defend and virtually incapable of being painted in a positive light. So does that mean that there are no firm guidelines that can be established to help companies manage their reputation – is it all too difficult? This article will argue that the reverse is the case – so long as companies understand that brand management and reputation management are the same thing – and so long as they have an imperative to integrate what they say with what they do – and then tell the truth. And as long as they have the confidence not to have their reputation management decisions taken by lawyers!

Let’s start with the key premise that there is really no difference between a company’s corporate brand and its reputation. This is not semantics – the need to understand this principle is an essential condition before we can go on to put a reputation management plan together. But first lets clarify what we mean by corporate identity or brand. In a company like Unilever the corporate brand is the company name and it is the multitude of product brands that comprise the consumer offer. Lipton and Lux and Persil stand alone as distinctive brands and although there is some measure of endorsement from the Unilever parent brand this is not crucial to the product brands’ success. When Unilever experienced some problems with the reformulation of their Persil brand back in the 1990s it did little harm to their corporate brand or to their business performance. It was a costly error – but it was confined to one product line – albeit an important one. read more

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This website and sisters,,,, and, are owned by John Donovan. There is also a Wikipedia segment.