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Monday, July 15, 2024

Follow These Strategies to Improve Your Brand Reputation

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Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Attracting and retaining your coveted target market requires a solid value proposition, consumer trust and a solid reputation in your respective industry. The latter most certainly doesn’t happen overnight.

Franchise brands that consistently earn a top spot among Entrepreneur’s Franchise 500 list typically spend years building a foundation of trust in their business sectors, then work just as hard to maintain their reputational status among consumers and competitors.

Whether you’re an established franchise brand looking to raise your awareness level or an emerging franchisor with a strong desire to connect to your base, what follows is actionable advice for improving your industrywide reputation.

Related: How to Build a Reputation That Will Become a Real Asset for You

What brand reputation is. And what it isn’t…

Simply put, reputation is easily defined as the perception of your brand – but it’s based on numerous factors. This begins with your franchise’s history, and whether your brand was born of a generational legacy or a “Eureka!” moment, everyone loves a good backstory.

Another key factor is founded on customer service and interaction. There are brands that exude the best example – such as perennial favorite Southwest Airlines, and brands that exemplify the worst examples, which, in this instance, we’ll forego naming.

Lastly, the establishment of a unique corporate culture has an ever-increasing influence on how brands are perceived by the outside world. It’s one of the reasons so much emphasis is placed on getting it right – not only for internal employees but external stakeholders as well. At the end of the day, a franchisor’s brand reputation is the culmination of the experiences and interactions you share with the outside world, essentially making it a two-way street.

1. Becoming a customer service superstar

One of the fastest ways to build a solid brand reputation in your industry is to focus on providing a superior customer experience. Whether your franchise sells a product or a service, it works the same way.

Brands that maintain excellent customer service reputations have built them over time by being responsive, attentive, transparent and honest with their target market. Brands looking to improve their customer service efforts should launch external surveys regularly to get a read on how they’re really doing.

As an executive with your brand, have you ever personally called your own customer service hotline? How would you rate the experience? Can you discover – firsthand – a few ways to improve your customer service outreach? Answer: highly likely. Some actionable advice? Dial that number today and see for yourself.

Related: This 4-Step Secret is Key to Exceptional Customer Service — And it Requires A Lot More Than Just Smiles

2. Spruce up your online presence

Another fast track to reputational excellence can be forged in your online presence. With multiple platforms and social media channels at your disposal, overlooking their value is a mistake because that’s where your consumers are and is fast becoming their preferred mode of interaction with brands.

Having a strong online presence is a must-have, not a want. Your consumers use social media to review your products and services, make purchases and communicate how they feel by providing valuable feedback. Franchise brand managers should conduct recurring reviews of their online presence and interactions to ensure they align with the company’s core values and culture. Your website should be visually appealing, easily navigable, interesting, efficient and above all – cohesive.

Whether your franchise handles social media monitoring in-house or uses a third-party vendor, see that you’re well-known for being responsive, respectful and engaged with your target audience.

3. Corporate social responsibility (CSR)

How important is CSR for brands looking to elevate their own reputations? Invaluable. Now more than ever, the largest consumer demographics don’t just appreciate your efforts at CSR – they expect it. Franchise brand managers should thoroughly analyze their environmental, sustainability and governance (ESG) efforts.

This can either be done internally or by bringing in an outside specialist. Whatever you decide, the importance cannot be overstated, as more than three-quarters of all consumers are motivated to buy from brands that are committed to ESG’s principles. Companies surveyed on this topic reveal the message has gotten through, as three-quarters of them believe that CSR can drastically reduce reputational risk and harm. Simply strive to make the world a better place, and your symbolic stock will rise among consumers.

Related: Corporate Social Responsibility Is More Than Just Charity — Here’s Why It’s Good for Business.

4. The value of intriguing marcomm

Organizations invest plenty of time, effort, and expense to get their advertising, promotion and marketing right the first time around. Messaging should always align with your franchise brand’s core values, convey your unique value proposition and demonstrate your brand’s key differentiators. It should also highlight your strengths, showcase your expertise and provide enough proof points to convince consumers through trial and adoption of your product or service. In a way, these combined tools (Marcomm) can be valuable, provided that your messaging intrigues and communicates the commitment to your core values. A good old-fashioned brand audit may be necessary, and the results may surprise you, but any attention to your overall Marcomm strategy will be a wise investment.

Related: How to Get Your Business Noticed (and How to Brag About It)

5. Pursue some credit

One of the most effective ways to enhance your franchise’s brand reputation comes with getting the attention you deserve. Many brands make the crucial mistake of overemphasizing external efforts, neglecting internal promotion that can be immensely valuable. Such as competing for industry awards, speaking opportunities, achievements, rankings and certifications that can effectively bolster your brand reputation. Think about it. Who will if you don’t care enough to pursue credit on your brand’s behalf? And the franchising industry, in particular, maintains a full calendar of opportunities to pursue year-round.

The metrics and measurements will measure your progress as you embark upon a campaign to enhance your franchise’s brand reputation. One of the easiest ways to accomplish this is to set up a Net Promotor Score (NPS) survey to gauge your performance. All you need to do to get started is set one up, and there are plenty of free templates you can use to get the ball rolling. It’s no secret that your perceived reputation is inherently tied to driving the success of your brand. It can be a valuable priority only if you make it one.



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