The difference between brand and reputation can be easy to overlook, as many marketing writers use the terms interchangeably. While they share similarities, they are not the same thing, and understanding the difference is important for managing your business’s perception in the eyes of the public.

Your brand is the sum of what your business does, what you stand for, and how you approach your work. You have a degree of control over your brand because you can decide how you want to present yourself to the world. However, your brand is not solely determined by your actions, as your audience’s perception of your brand can differ from your intended image.

Your reputation, on the other hand, is what people remember and share about your business. It’s the culmination of their experiences with you, and it’s something that you have less control over than your brand. Your reputation is influenced by how well you live up to the standards of your brand, but it’s not guaranteed. Even businesses that are reliable, accountable, and customer-friendly can have a negative reputation if they fail to deliver on their promises. Building and keeping trust is the key… and it takes work and dedication.

One way to see the difference between brand and reputation is to look at social media. When a brand presents itself in a certain way, but its audience perceives it differently, the result can be a messy comment section. A bad reputation is not easily erased by clever marketing, as people’s memories and experiences with your business are hard to forget.

Building a positive reputation requires action. People remember what you do more than what you say, and their judgments of your business are based on their experiences with you. To build a positive reputation, it’s important to focus on moments that matter – moments where you can help, relate, and connect with your customers on a human level. Treat your customers with respect, prioritize relationships over quick-fix transactions, and keep your promises. When someone walks out the door, thank them for their business rather than trying to sell them something else. When they come back next time, make recommendations based on what they purchased before, rather than what you want them to purchase right now.

Social media has made it easy for consumers to find out what their friends, neighbors, and colleagues have to say about your business. A bad reputation is hard to escape, which is why it’s important to prioritize relationships, live up to your values, and create positive memorable moments with your customers. Your business’s brand is important, but it’s only a small part of what customers see when they look at your business.

Your brand is what you do; your reputation is what people remember and share. To build a positive reputation, focus on taking the right actions, treating customers with respect, and prioritizing relationships over transactions. Remember… your brand is a promise, and your reputation depends on whether you keep it.

Originally posted at The School of Athens Newsletter

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