The Importance of Being Earnest: Online Brand Management and Transparency
Online brand management is something that every company deals with at some point, whether it is big name companies like Papa John's or Amazon, or small companies like yours or mine. The importance of this brand management is sometimes overlooked—after all, the "people" on the internet are just usernames, or at least this is what some people believe. The fact of the matter is that those people are probably your customers and clients, and what they have to say can hugely impact your business's reputation, both positively or negatively.
Now, before we jump into the actual managing of a brand on the internet, we should define some terms. First, Brand Management is just the analysis, planning, and implementation of how a brand is perceived in the market. It requires the brand to create good relationships with the target audience in order to succeed, and can come in the form of the product itself—the look, the price, or packaging—as well as how the brand responds to requests, criticism, and how the brand interacts with the target audience. When online, these concepts can refer to the brand's website and how the user experience feels on the website, as well as how easy it is to contact the business, and what kind of response the audience gets from this contact.
Brand Management is all about perception. Let's walk through a scenario: you're online shopping for some product (as I'm sure you've done countless times before), you manage to find the product on two websites, both of which have distinctly different branding. One has a cartoon character with their middle finger up on the packaging (Brand N), while the other is just the brand's logo and some information (Brand P). After looking into both sellers, you find that Brand N has some pretty poor customer reviews, and they tend to tell their complaining customers that they are wrong and offer little help. Their product is also cheaper than that of Brand P. But, after researching Brand P, you see that they have great reviews, are always quick to respond and to offer help where applicable, and they seem to have even offered refunds on the product to customers who were truly dissatisfied. Their product is also the more expensive of the two. Which brand do you end up shopping with?
The modern consumer might still choose Brand N, just because of the cheaper price tag. But what happens when the product is faulty or breaks? Do you think Brand N is going to be easy to work with, and the time it'll take to find a solution is actually worth the money you saved shopping here? The unfortunate answer is that Brand N is probably going to leave you out to dry, without much help.
Now, this is obviously an oversimplification of how the whole process works, but if had Brand N had managed their brand better, then it would have been an easy choice to pick their product, and it probably would have been a good experience. This is what online brand management is about: convincing your potential clientele that your product or service is the choice and the best choice, rather than just a choice.
Arguably, the largest part of online brand management is responding to customer requests and reviews, however negative they might be. People all over the world use online reviews to determine which products they are going to buy, and your's are no exception. The biggest issue I see in online brand management is the proper way to respond to negativity. I've seen it countless times: a brand gets a negative review, or somebody comments negatively on their social media, and the first thing the brand does is to remove the negative post. This is a HUGE no-no, as it shows that your brand is not willing or able to be transparent with the potential customers.
I mean just think about it, would you rather see a ton of positive reviews, only to buy a product that isn't what it was supposed to be? Or would you rather see that someone had an issue, and the brand responded and attempted to help in any way they could? In responding and offering whatever help is available, or in making any attempt at remedying the situation for your customer makes your brand look transparent, and shows users that if the mistake is your fault, you are willing to do what's right to make their experience better, making the public view of your brand one of transparency and positivity, rather than feeling shady, or dishonest.
With the introduction of social media as a brand management and marketing tool, managing your brand has become easier than ever. Social media pages allow your brand to have a relatively wide voice, complete with the ability to connect with your audience, promote your brand, and create a personality for it. Since basically everyone is on social media at this point, it's a great avenue to establish and manage your brand for all of your follows to see (which brings in the idea of transparency).
The long and the short of it is that transparency is important. Even if your brand isn't responsible for fixing a faulty product that a consumer got from you, you as the brand need to own up to that. Simply letting the consumer know where their next line of contact needs to be can be more than enough to give of a positive view, because you're still willing to help in any way you can. Being as transparent as possible with your target audience makes your company seem approachable, and gives them confidence that their experience will be pleasant, even if they have problems.
Is brand management something you need? Is your online brand lacking in content, transparency, or simply someone to manage it? Contact the Armor Techs today and let us help you set up a brand manual and get your business on track to becoming one that people speak highly of, and avoid the shady acts that are all too easy to do for the sake of time.