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Branding and Brand Reputation Management Primer for PR Professionals

There are literally billions of brands in existence right now, every single one of them wants to establish itself as an industry outlier. This is where PR Professionals come in, but in order to do the best PR possible, knowing all there is to know about branding, brand management, and brand reputation management is essential.

According to Philip Kotler aka the-father-of-modern-branding and brand management, “Using a name, phrase, sign, symbol (or a mix of these) that identifies the creator or seller of the product is branding.” Many businesses mistakenly believe that developing a brand stops with the creation of a brand name and logo. On the contrary, this is when starts the real work of broadcasting and communicating the brand’s identity, architecture, position, persona, and purpose to the end-user or stakeholder. A genuine brand will always work to have all of its marketing, communications, and public relations match its true branding. This matching is what public relations professionals do.

Furthermore, a brand is like a living organism and branding is a constantly evolving and ongoing process. Its components change and adapt through time. Professionals in public relations and corporate communications become crucial at this stage to guarantee that the brand’s evolution is properly reflected in all messages directed to the relevant audiences.

One who works in public relations and is, for all practical processes, the brand’s spokesperson needs to be familiar with branding basics. The true connection between a brand and its consumers can only be achieved via the careful pairing of brand management and communications.

This blog shall explain the process of branding and also give tips on brand management, something that is essential for you to know in order to become a good PR professional.

Study the brand structure of your client’s organization

Brand management comprises a set of guidelines for how a company’s various brands, goods, and services should be structured so that consumers can more easily find them and form emotional connections with them. Brand architecture takes many forms, including the branded house, house of brands, and hybrid models.

branding

A branded house comprises primarily of a parent brand, or umbrella, under which a number of subsidiary brands, or goods, are promoted and run. Google and its many offshoots (YouTube, Books, Maps, etc.) are a prime illustration of this phenomenon. In this context, “house of brands” refers to a business that manages multiple brands, each with its own customer base and promotional strategy. Companies such as Procter & Gamble and Unilever are perfect illustrations of this trend. The hybrid model, as its name implies, combines elements of both, and one of the most recognisable and successful companies that uses this framework is Coca-Cola.

For starters, it’s important for a public relations expert to have a firm grasp on the company’s brand structure for successful brand reputation management. With this knowledge in hand, they will be able to tell the best possible story for their company. Not only that, but they should also be aware of how the various brands and services contribute to the Company’s central goals and tenets.

Recognize the ethos and voice of your client’s brand

Brand management and positioning that is true to the brand’s core values and defining characteristics is what we mean when we talk about brand consistency. There will be severe consequences for a company’s reputation if this continuity breaks down. Customers place a premium on constancy and are often confused when messages use contrasting symbols and tones.

A company’s public relations and corporate communications efforts present several openings for the brand’s voice and personality to become organically entwined with the story it wants to convey. There are countless opportunities for a company to share its values and mission with the world, such as media pitches, press events, award ceremonies, and more. A savvy PR expert will use these venues to tell a consistent and valuable brand message for successful brand reputation management.

Achieve brand consistency by making sure your clients sound like your brand

Spend the most of your time and strategic consideration here if you’re interested in corporate communications and public relations. Personifying a brand is an easy concept to grasp. Consider your brand to be a sentient being, and fill its mind with all the possible attributes it could have. Through this understanding, you will be able to advocate for not only your brand, but also its constituents. The leaders and public faces of a business are its best ambassadors to the world at large. Each member of this core team must be able to articulate their ideas and goals in terms of the brand’s personality. As communicators, we PR professionals need to know everything there is to know about a company’s brand in order to provide its thought leaders a voice that resonates with its target audience.

Managing brand reputation management

Nowadays, everything seems to be about the quickest possible turnaround time. There is always something fresh to see on social media, and ‘breaking news’ has become the standard. There are many upsides to this trend, but one major downside is that that slightest slip and a brand’s reputation can go for a toss. As a public relations expert, how do you then do damage control?

In the age of social media such as Twitter and Facebook, controversies can break out almost immediately. When all else fails, some people just throw in the towel and hope their reputation will recover on its own. All sorts of people and businesses, from movie stars such as Salman Khan and Lindsay Lohan to multinational corporations such as Nestle, the cola giants, and Air India, have attempted to improve the public’s view of their brands.

Has your client made a slip? PR can undo the damage

Public relations can do damage control when a brand’s reputation is sullied because good PR experts know just how to raise client visibility and reputation. As a case in point, Coca-blunder Cola’s in China is legendary. When translating Coca-name Cola’s into Mandarin for the Chinese market, the company made the unfortunate decision to go with “Ke-Kou-Ke-La,” which means either “bite the wax tadpole” and it has another meaning in a local Mandarin dialect that is unmentionable.

So, what did the cola giant do? A PR blitzkrieg, and in Q2, 2022, its turnover in China was USD11.3 billion. That is the magic of impactful and good public relations.

How PR can salvage a brand’s damaged reputation

To start with, PR professionals create an internal informational public relations plan for brand management. An organisation’s internal processes should be prioritised as a first step toward repairing its reputation. A corporation that wants to keep its employees happy must be willing to admit when it makes errors and always tell the truth. Each member of staff plays a crucial role in promoting the company. WorldCom, for instance, failed to properly manage internal damage control, which led to public leaks and low morale. Brands should be sincere and truthful with its staff if they wish to raise morale. Employees need to be met with, and the situations need to be explained. Due to the potential for leaks to the media, written communication may be avoided. 

A brand should outline the steps of its public relations plan internally. Inadequate internal communication makes it impossible to repair harm, so the damage will remain and brand reputation management becomes near impossible.

Take a very close look at the legal ramifications 

The legal element will become increasingly relevant to your public relations approach because you must obviously think about potential legal liabilities before speaking to the media. Consensual content for all external communications must be crafted in conjunction with lawyers if your scandal concerns legal issues (print or verbal).

Make an effort to collaborate with the press

When a crisis occurs at a business, the media often becomes the primary means of communication, thus playing a crucial role in damage control. A company’s credibility should not be further damaged by attempting to manipulate the media during a crisis. The organisation needs to reiterate its message so that it remains consistently communicated to its target demographic(s).

Apologising should not be beneath a brand’s dignity

According to PR pundits, businesses should apologise to the consumer when they get into difficulty or when they do something wrong. The apology must come from the heart and not appear forced or phoney, or brand reputation management will become an uphill task. Communicating with the public and showing complete honesty about motives is crucial. It could necessitate an appearance in public when sincere apologies are made. Famous golfer Tiger Woods used CNN to apologise for his actions in the scandal that rocked his world in 2009. Though it may not have seemed so at the time, he made the correct choice by confessing his wrongdoing in person. Several decades later, his reputation has improved, if not entirely.

Stay out of problems and do the right thing

Possible, but challenging, answer to the issue at hand. Keeping a low profile and giving things time to heal might be effective strategies for gaining forgiveness from others. The old adage that “time cures all wounds” is generally true, and it is true that time may be a great equaliser. Crucially, emergency preparation could be useful here. The thing is, that’s not always the case. When given the chance to do the right thing, most individuals nevertheless choose poorly. To improve our reputation in the realm of public relations, it is essential that we keep up with current events and grasp the ethos that behind them.

In the wake of a crisis, it can be challenging for most businesses to “come clean” due to the complexity of the issues involved on both the legal and unlawful fronts. The media, the public, and the workforce should all take note of this. Businesses, however, should be aware that the truth will emerge in the public domain.

Just like a brand, even a person’s reputation can be repaired after a scandal. Bill Clinton, formerly known for his extramarital affair while in office as US president, is now better known as the founder of the Clinton Foundation. One theory attributes this shift to post-scandal public relations efforts. More than anything else, it can help a corporation regain some of its former glory and heal its damaged reputation.