Corporate Reputation - WHAT to measure
Last week I wrote about what corporate reputation is and why you must measure it. But what exactly should you be measuring? There isn’t a dial you can read once a month and jot down a number. Google analytics can’t (yet) tell you this vital statistic. Some companies will try to sell you a single way of measuring reputation but there’s a reason why most big companies use a tailored solution: reputation isn’t the same for everyone. It isn’t the same for every company or product, and it isn’t the same for every group of their stakeholders.
Reputation is “the opinion that people in general have about someone or something, or how much respect or admiration someone or something receives, based on past behaviour or character”. Now consider a manufacturer of squash and cordial – the reasons for which I might respect or admire that company compared to how I might construct an opinion about my energy supplier, or the landlord from whom I rent a flat, differ considerably.
Any reputation measurement framework needs to take these differences into account. Or otherwise risks being seen as unhelpful or academic. For example, the squash manufacturer may be considered irrelevant by an older couple, who could struggle to conjure an opinion at all, whereas a young male likes their flavour range but has no brand loyalty, and parents worry intensely about the sugar content. On a generic reputation question these individuals could all score the same and tell the business very little. As ever, context is key.
My opinion of and admiration for any organisation will be affected by three primary categories:
1. My feelings about myself
2. My feelings about the company and the products it sells
3. My feelings about the sector in which it operates
Different sectors face radically different reputation challenges (think tobacco, sugar, mining, banking etc) but most firms also have specific areas that needs to be taken into account. The legacy flag carrier may well be trusted to deliver a certain product but are they cost-effective, cool, trusted to deliver the product we actually want? These questions are very different for the challenger brand in the same industry. This problem is why most thorough reputation measurement approaches begin with some form of qualitative research – even if that is just a synthesis of all of the research you have already done – to understand what drives your reputation specifically.
Without this context, and an understanding of the landscape within which your reputation operates, it will be hard for your team to use the resulting reputation score to inform their work. And this, after all, is the point of measuring reputation in the first place.
For more information about the reputation challenges facing individual sectors, THIS map by ratings agency Fitch is a useful starting point.
For ways to start thinking about what impacts the reputation of your company specifically, try THESE RESOURCES
Or get in touch for a conversation about how to start measuring your reputation more simply and reliably: firstname.lastname@example.org