The Importance of Managing Your Brand Reputation
Reputation is one of the most important factors when it comes to success in the real estate industry. Money can’t buy a good reputation and once it’s lost, it can be challenging and costly for you and your business to recover.
In today’s digital age, the reputation of a business or individual is easily visible online, which is why managing your reputation is so important.
What is brand reputation management?
Essentially, brand reputation management involves the process of influencing the way the public sees your brand. It’s a useful risk management tool and an effective way to increase the public’s trust in you, the business you own or the business you work for. It can also result in lead generation through word-of-mouth referrals and positive business reviews.
To better understand how to manage the reputation of your brand, it’s vital to understand what your brand is and what values it stands for.
Christine Moody, Chief Brand Officer of Brand Audits, says people often think that a brand is just your logo, but in reality, it’s much more than that.
“I always say to people that their brand is everything the company does,” she says. “It’s how you’re greeted, how your signage is displayed, how you treat people at an open house… it’s everything.”
For the top real estate agencies, Moody says “to ensure their reputation is managed, they have to make sure that everything they do is ‘on brand’, and that starts with the brand values.”
An important first step for businesses that want to be ‘on brand’ is to outline, understand and follow their brand values. These values need to be upheld in every aspect of business and if this isn’t done, it can be much more challenging to maintain a positive reputation.
“[Managing your brand] is about building trust, and this can only be done by being authentic and transparent,” says Moody.
Why is it important?
Nowadays, businesses are required to be more transparent with their customers than ever before. The public is becoming increasingly educated on high–level topics because of the plethora of information sources available at their fingertips. Due to social media and Google Reviews, businesses are now highly exposed; it is a lot harder to hide from any form of negative feedback or public scrutiny. These factors are why maintaining a positive reputation is so important.
Real estate is no different and negative experiences and reviews can have a major impact on the reputation and word-of-mouth referrals of any company, agency or agent. A big reason for this is trust, as real estate transactions generally involve large sums of money as well as legalities. Any mistakes in this process can result in costly legal ramifications whether an agency is responsible or not.
“As an agent, a lot of the time you’re dealing with people’s lives,” says Moody. “Your brand management is about looking at the [reputation] risks and addressing them through your brand values.”
“In any business, something [negative] is going to happen so it’s important to identify what this could be and whether or not your business will be able to handle it,” she says.
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Businesses with strong brand management can mitigate reputation risks based on the trust they have built with customers over a long period. Moody says consumers will forgive a business much faster when there is already a high level of trust.
“Using Apple as an example… they have had issues throughout the years and they haven’t been perfect,” she says. “But they have continuously built up their reputation and have been transparent and open about their mistakes.”
Moody suggests customer research as one of the best tools a business can use to understand their existing reputation and to positively improve their brand. She says having a framework in place to align to your brand values and track your brand perception will give you the insights you need to continually provide the best possible service to your customers.
What’s the cost?
Spending money on customer research, advertising campaigns and training your staff to help improve the reputation of your business may seem expensive in the short term. However, the cost of not managing your reputation or mitigating risks could be the failure of your business.
“Brand is everyone’s responsibility… it doesn’t just fall on the marketing department,” Moody says. “Everybody involved in a real estate business plays an important part in brand reputation management and an office administrator has just as much power to influence a customer as an auctioneer or agent.”
The real cost of brand reputation management can be hard to define as everyone plays a role and Moody suggests that it should be something that is constant and will change with the needs of your business.
However, acting in a way that is ‘’on brand’ and aligns with your values can be a cost-effective way of managing your brand reputation, just as ’off-brand’ behaviours may be detrimental to your business. Moody says it’s the authenticity of a business’s actions that make them powerful.
“People will sniff it out if they know it’s false… it has to be something you live and breathe,’ she says. “You have to be making decisions based on your brand values… you have to be very clear on what you do and don’t do.”