How to Build and Sustain Your Brand Reputation
Even though we sometimes don’t like to admit it, we all love a good bit of gossip. Magazines talking about the lives and problems of celebrities are among the most popular publications in the world, with front-page scandals catching our eyes and getting us reading deeper for all the juicy details.
Of course, the experience is very different if you’re on the other side of the scandal. For businesses in particular, a bad scandal can have a serious impact on your operation and revenue. For CEOs and founders, scandals can often lead to you losing your position, and with it your business. In some cases, you might even find yourself behind bars, your reputation in tatters.
The West African fintech scene was rocked recently by allegations against the most senior members of Flutterwave. And regardless of whether the allegations are true or not, many potential investors are likely to have second thoughts about throwing their money and support behind the company.
Once your brand reputation is tarnished, it’s very hard to clean it up again.
In this article, we look at why brand reputation means so much, and what you can do to both build it up, and also stop it from falling down.
✨Start it right
If you’re thinking about starting a business, think about starting it right. It might take longer and even cost a little more money, to begin with, but starting your endeavour with everything above-board will save you time, money and branding headaches down the track.
Some things to consider when trying to start right:
· Always meet your tax obligations
· Pay your workers fairly and on time from day one
· Hire the right HR professionals and empower them
· Be transparent. Aspire to act ethically in everything you do
· Don’t promise more than you can deliver
If you aren’t sure you can keep a promise — whether it’s to an investor, a client or even someone you’re hiring — don’t make that promise. It’s always better to over-deliver than under-deliver. All it takes are some disgruntled customers, employees, or an angry investor to bring your brand into question.
Get more insight on brand strategy from Chuta Chimezie’s Playbook for Building A Strong Brand Strategy Bridge for Your Blockchain Startup Business
Businesses are made of people, and unfortunately, people are flawed. Even if you’ve been an ethical leader from day one, someone in your team might begin to do some unacceptable things. Sometimes this is intentional, sometimes it’s because of an oversight — regardless, you should have systems of accountability in place to make sure you address issues as soon as they crop up.
Auditing is an important part of this process. Internal audits can happen regularly, depending on the size of your operation. If you can, aim to have an independent third-party auditor check out your operation as often as you can. This doesn’t have to happen weekly or even monthly, but getting an unbiased set of eyes to look over your operation every year or two can help spot problems you’re too close to notice.
Here, leading by example is important — demonstrate accountability by being accountable yourself. As the leader in your business, everything is ultimately your responsibility and you can be accountable to your HR team or the board of directors. When something goes wrong, accept responsibility yourself. This shows your team that nobody is above accountability and creates a good culture of self-regulation.
✨Keep it clean
Even if you’ve done everything perfectly, problems can still arise. If you’ve created a good culture of accountability, you can detect discrepancies early on and act on them as quickly as possible. If it involves the personal conduct of a team member, report it to HR and allow their due process to resolve the issue. If you’ve detected illegal behaviour by a member of your team, consult with your legal counsel before following it up with the relevant authorities.
Staying ahead of scandals puts you in control and allows you to minimise the risk of PR incidents that could damage your brand. As noted in the Harvard Business Review, “research reveals that many of the firms hit by major scandals…had received early warning signs of impending problems”. While you don’t need to make public statements on everything that happens internally, ensuring you follow due process and tackle problems as early as you can, gives you the moral authority to defend your brand should the need arise.
✨Seek mentor advice
The world of business is far from simple to navigate. Business culture has its own norms, and if you operate across borders there are a lot of rules you need to stay ahead of. Even operating a local business comes with challenges to negotiate, whether local laws or troublesome competition.
Having qualified mentors helping to guide you means that you can always stay on the right path. Whether it’s advice on brand building, or simply support to help you make tough but necessary decisions, qualified mentors make all the difference when building a business.
At Adaverse, we both fund and advise promising startups looking to get ahead in competitive markets. Whether it’s advice on brand building, business ethics or even something as simple as team building, our expert advisors and networks give you an advantage over the rest.
✨Make a positive contribution to Society
At the core of every good idea is the drive to help people. After all, you’ve identified a problem and decided to build a business around solving it, and in doing so, made someone’s life easier or better. You can also include community service as part of your contribution to your society by funding and supporting humanitarian causes.
Behaving ethically and dealing with problems proactively is the best way to build a strong reputation and maintain a reputable brand. Cutting corners is never a solution, and as we’ve seen with many brands of ill-repute, the higher you climb on shaky support, the further you fall when it all comes crashing down.
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At Adaverse, we pride ourselves on helping our incubated projects begin with a solid foundation, and our expert advisors are always available for founders to call on should they need help. If you’d like to get your brand off to the best possible start, get in touch with us today.
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