Brand Communication and Reputation Management

Introduction

Brand communication and reputation management indicates the concept of ways in which a brand’s image is perceived by consumers and implementing a strategic plan of actions from time to time to develop the image of a brand in the market. In today’s age it has become extremely imperative for a brand to maintain its reputation, both in the real world and also on online platforms to sustain business in a competitive market. It may be stated that with the advancement of technology and digitization, it is extremely easy to ruin a brand’s image, thus, every brand goes way and beyond to ensure its image is not ruined in the public eye.

1. Impact of Covid-19 upon the management of brand reputation 

The impact of Covid-19 may be evident in every corner and all the business sectors of the world and all the brands have suffered tremendously to maintain its reputation during the pandemic. It may be stated that in the digital age, every individual is able to understand the things that are taking place in the world and which brand or company is not maintaining proper protocol to satisfy its customers. During the pandemic or even in the pre pandemic era, one mistake conducted by a brand may ruin its reputation in the minds of the customers, which eventually leads to the brand losing its spot in the market.

Thus, all the brands, such as apparel, manufacturing brands attempt everything to ensure that the companies are able to hold their reputation in the public eye. Additionally, in case the public is aware of any circumstances that may have caused any negative experience for the consumers by a brand, then there is a possibility that the particular brand may face several risks and harm its reputation (Waller, 2020). The positive reputation of a brand helps the organization to create a strong brand value and loyal consumer base, which in return helps the given brand to grow and expand its business even further.

In order to keep the reputation intact and positive in the minds of the customers during, brands have been attempting to introduce and implement several different protocols that help the companies to look after its employees and as well as consumers. Brands have become more responsible towards its customer and employees during the pandemic to hold a positive brand reputation, since a negative brand reputation may obliterate all the business operations of a company. The majority of brands have created a remote work culture for the employees in order to avoid putting the employees’ health at risk to portray that brand are taking care of their employees. This practice also radiates an image that helps the organization to have an affirmative reputation as well and along with that the companies are taking several measures to assure the consumers of their safety. Other than that, most brands are shifting their business ventures to online or e-commerce platforms to provide consumers the luxury to shop for products without stepping out amidst the pandemic. Research suggests that, majority of people consider a brand to have a good reputation when the company is socially responsible and the employer or executives are genuinely of good nature (Verčič and Ćorić, 2018).

The outbreak of Covid-19 has put every brand in the centre of attention as all the consumer’s eyes are on the brands to determine whether or not the brands are maintaining all the safety protocol or not. Based on these measures, it is decided if a brand may have a positive or negative reputation, hence, the brands are continuously making it evident or announcing all the safety protocols the company has taken to save its reputation. The brands are constantly ensuring that they are sanitizing all the products in order to avoid contamination of the Covid-19 virus and also being socially responsible in this time to maintain a positive reputation. Several brands are providing face masks, financial, food resources to underprivileged people to display that the companies are being socially responsible in the tough times and also managing their reputation as well.

However, it needs to be mentioned that the brands have suffered financial losses as well in order to avoid having a negative reputation and there are many different strategies the brands have applied that caused them financial loss in return for a positive reputation. It may be taken as an example that many brands are still paying their employees, despite all the business operations being shut down to have a positive reputation and that has led a brand to lose profit. Furthermore, since the arrival of the pandemic various media channels have started to extensively cover the ways brands are taking care of the employees and giving back to the community and for which some brands have earned positive feedback too (Yohn, 2020).

2. Analysis of performance in accordance with the brand reputation management during Covid-19

The performance of an organization is the key factor that enlightens the brand reputation or decreases the brand value and reputation where it is directly proportional to the reputation management of an organization. The Covid-19 outbreak forced every organization worldwide to deal with the reputation management of the brand which may sustain effectively or may demerit the brand name. Organizations are fighting tough to continue the brand reputation along with sustenance during the Covid-19 and for a better understanding of the management situation, two opposite stories of brand reputation are discussed in detail.

Building positive reputation to exceed customer expectation through media and Public Relation

The reputation of the brand always depends upon the performance of the organization and the customer satisfaction, here the story of the brand management of Delta airlines’ during the Covid -19 is described in detail who grew the brand reputation to distinction. Delta airline is a USA-based global airline that provides air transportation to the passenger and cargo at a reasonable price to its customer (Delta News Hub. 2021). Due to Covid-19, outbreak lockdown is imposed heavily and Delta airline comes up with its unique strategy to fly over the market. Communication and advertising are the lead player of any organization to establish a brand name where Delta airlines championed with that activity and attract the customer interest more effectively. Delta airline comes up with new strategies such as premium cabin sales, merger with some other aircraft carriers, owning an oil refinery, attracting corporate attention with high margin in low price settlement, using a middle berth through which the company establishes its brand reputation higher than its competitor (Harvard Business Review. 2021). Furthermore, some measurements taken as cleaning and hygiene attract the passenger and satisfaction of passenger followed with the increasing revenue of Delta airline.

BRAND COMMUNICATION

The important factor is that the communication of the organization which followed the customer to the doorstep with the help of technology as salesforce for direct booking to customer service and flying experience, operational performance, reliability, cost excelled compared to other airline carriers (Delta News Hub. 2021). Delta airline’ positivity lies within its work culture where it communicates to the passenger and gives a reliable presentation of the capability it may carry within the market. The brand value of Delta airline grew exponentially in the lockdown due to the improved Public Relationship (PR) and managing the relationship as healthy to attract its business with profit which not only made the airlines as the reliable and trustworthy aircraft carrier and also the better workplace to work for the employee. The interaction with the passengers through media and PR improved significantly where Delta airlines presented the renovation of the strategy which gathered the public attractions and therefore the operational behaviour offered by the crew members influenced the passenger satisfaction and grew as the market leader among the airlines.

Delta airlines always keep the customer on benefit by offering low price and comfort service which attracts the corporate segment more adequate offerings (Harvard Business Review. 2021). The organization reached out to the customer through social media such as Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Flickr, LinkedIn, Instagram and advertise the premium of the low-cost journey for travel and tourism which shows the massive interest among the customer where the company selectively discusses the issues and openings to attract the large base of the customer (Zelenka and Hruška, 2018). Reflection on social media plays a pivotal role for the company where it showcases its credibility towards the consumer for a profitable run in the business. The organization’s strategic move in interacting with the customer through media and a healthy relation through PR satisfies the zeal to achieve a remarkable reputation during the lockdown period. Specifically, cleaning and hygiene maintenance of the airlines leads to customer satisfaction positively which helps to build its brand reputation more attractive and reliable. It exceeds the customer expectation with its performance which is highly recommendable for other organizations to sustain in the business.

The impact of Covid- 19 plays a profound role for the company where primarily it was impacted negatively and with its strategic goal and performance, it overcomes the impact with a positive result which sets an example to refurbish the brand value and reputation followed by business profit. In recent years, social media platforms significantly present the position through socialization and connection building with the brands and prospective customers with the wide use and potential advertising, managing and controlling the area which is essential for the overall marketing operations without geographic limitation (Hekimoğlu, 2018). Users of social media are able to express, share and discuss personal opinions and interests in their favourite brand and make a certain topic trending worldwide which instantly causes the point of concern where companies come up with the measurement to control and populate the brand health. Branding the organization’s reputation is the major goal of any organization and during lockdown with the help of social media Delta airlines hit the jackpot through social media branding that acts perfectly towards the growing reputation of the company. Advertising the right content in accordance with customer satisfaction and views erodes the way to branding the organization’s reputation with the evolving nature of information sharing to shape the brand position in the mind and belief of the customer. Additionally, other customer opinions and discussion about the service provided by the organization is useful to shape the potential customer’s mind and brand perception (Hekimoğlu, 2018).

Incompetent to meet the customer expectation

On a contradictory note, Adidas which is a globally renowned organization for making sportswear is lagging with the outbreak of Covid-19 forcing it to close 70 % of the base stores globally (Adidas-group, 2021). Here the brand management pays the price to covid-19 which cites the inability of an organization to stand still with an outbreak and demerits the brand value and reputation. Covid-19 outbreak totally crippled the business of Adidas which shows the inability of the organization to perform as per the situation and improper adaptability of technical innovation with the discourse of customer opinion. After the outbreak, Adidas announces deferring rent payment of its stores which showed the irresponsibility of the organization during the global health crisis where with some heightened sentiments and critics it withdraws the statement which shows the lack of credibility of the organization (Theglobeandmail. 2021). Strategic risk is the key factor related to poor strategic decision making of the management which directly impacts the business with the operational risk’s variable with macro-economic factor and highlights the inoperability in managing liquid assets wisely (Shahudin, 2018). Thus, the brand reputation and brand merit reach the lowest in this tough business market where the management of reputation plays the role of lowly customization which fails to deliver the customer expectation and negatively branding the company’s presence over the business market. The credibility of the company decreases as with the trustworthiness and reliability of the brand fading out of the market the management with wrong decisions make this happen for negative branding of Adidas.

Reputation building is a continuous effort for several years and makes the sustenance for the organization where the negative reputation forced the organization to the backyards of the market. For Adidas, the management’s decision played the factor in diminishing the brand reputation with lack of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) towards the stakeholders which attracts critics from worldwide and affects the business as usual. The disruption of reputation causes disbelief among the customer and the loyalty shifted to other organizations which hampered the business largely. Through the use of social media customers and partners of the company expressed personal opinions regarding business decisions which was a trending topic within a small span of time and globally the brand reputation was hampered badly. The management did not change the strategic plan for doing business to cope up with the changing time and it is affecting the overall business of the company globally. Loyal customers and business partners shifted the loyalty and the selling of the product decreased at its point which attracted low feedback worldwide and distorted the global chain of the business. The company was not using digital innovation to propel the business growth for reputation building which shows the lack of adaptability of the organization. The company is successful whose adaptability with time is fast and those who are not adaptable will fade away with time. By announcing the irresponsible word of withholding rent to the stores this organization shows the trust issue towards the partners while it was subjected to a lot of public criticism which affected the business market of the company compared to the competitor (Boehmer and Harrison, 2021).

The behaviour of the company shows the lack of integrity towards society which is not acceptable in today’s information-sharing world with the increasing social media activities where the company failed to manage and control the marketing operation. Customer involvement in branding the reputation is a useful part of marketing where in this particular case, the customer is not satisfied after all while all the stores are forced to close down and the flow of business is distorted as usual. Meanwhile, the business announcement came as a shock to the Stakeholders globally where they entrusted with the brand and brand is not sustaining through the global pandemic which creates a negative impact of brand name in the market. In addition to that, the partner may change the view and perspective towards the business brand and may alter the decision to continue in the business process which will have a more negative impact on the business. Use of social media and maintaining public relations is important to thrive in a business where social media discussions are earning the concern to highlight an issue in no time which is fruitful for some marketing operations where sometimes it may be harmful to the business market. The traditional business operation is not helpful during this pandemic era and the market is totally running on the online digital platforms where the technical precedence may lead the market with enough brand value and brand operation. Therefore, the onus of reputation management of the brand is dependent upon management intuition, Strategic decision, adaptability to changes in technology and time-binding performance on production.

Critical analysis of performance to build the brand reputation of above organization

Factors Delta Airlines Adidas
Influence of social media The company communicates with the consumers more frequently through social media which helped to build a positive reputation The company digest lot of criticism over the social media platform and negatively impacted the brand name
Public relationship It helped the company to acknowledge the customer requirements and through providing service to customers which grew the brand value  It shows distrust to the stakeholders which distorting the business flow
Management intuition A strategic decision was taken for better sustenance and performance to deliver customer satisfaction A wrong decision was taken by the management side which reflected criticism from worldwide and irresponsibility visible from the far end
Customer satisfaction Concentrate on customer requirements and supervising the adequate supplement to satisfy customers to the fullest  Customer satisfaction is not the point of concern for the organization, it only concentrated on the traditional business process which is broken drastically due to the Covid-19 outbreak
Impact of Covid-19 The company comes up with new decisions and strategic changes to make the reputation of brand global The company was forced to close 70% of base stores globally

Table 1: Comparison between Adidas and Delta Airlines

(Source: Self-created)

Here the management intuition to take effective steps for building brand reputation and strategic changes taken for the customer satisfaction make the difference between brands for the business performance. Moreover, acknowledging and providing customer requirements and coming up with solutions in social media to maintain public relationships shape the brand’s perspective towards the customer mind which produces greater brand value.

3. Guidelines to manage the brand, market and reputation 

A brand needs to be well versed with the ongoing pandemic situation and take several actions in accordance with the current situation caused by the pandemic to maintain its positive reputation in the global or national market. It needs to be stated that brands need to introduce and implement protocols that may help the companies to look out for the employees as well as the consumers and that may help the brand to hold a positive reputation as well. Vaccinating the employees, providing full remunerations to the workers and other such socially responsible acts may help a brand gain an image of a company with a good reputation. Other than that, the brands may reduce the prices of their products in order to allow everyone to purchase goods without feeling drained out, since the pandemic has caused many people to lose their jobs. In accordance with research, it may be stated that on e-commerce platforms brands offer a lot of discounts on products that have a positive impact on a brand’s image and reputation (Agmekaet al., 2019). In addition to that, a brand needs to constantly spread awareness about the severity of the disease and educate its audiences to show that the brand cares about its consumers in order to maintain a positive reputation.

Brand reputation largely depends on its performance and application of performance towards the customer satisfaction with which brand name may create global recognition and without it, the brand may be pushed to the backyards in the business market. Covid-19 forced everyone to a new era of business where initially it took time to recognize and assess the new possibilities to go with the business and some organizational strategic decisions overcome the challenging situation where some might fail to deliver the expected result. Adaptability is above all criteria for the organization in the market sustenance where the company has to be always open and adapt to new strategies, platforms, technology for business doing. Management intuition and initiative is another good factor where it levels up infrastructure and service areas to utilize the market opportunities. Covid-19 also impacted the life of commoners and to cope up with the changing situation, the cost price has to be lower than previous to attract the customer’s attention. Moreover, due to lockdown, most of the people are now at home so the organization’s first attempt should be to reach out to the customer premises to deliver the business advertisement and sell goods. Excessive use of social media and broadcasting of business operations over social media is more attractive for homebound customers. Remote business through the internet and e-commerce website is a shining area of business operation where technological invention created these platforms to do the business operation and healthy transactions (Krishnamurthy, 2020).

The use of technology, as well as timely delivery, is important to gain the trust of customers which will help to yield the brand reputation. Furthermore, good maintenance of hygiene and cleaning in the service field has to be incorporated in business which is the burning need for the health of people. Healthy public relationships have to be in the business book of the organization to understand the customer requirements and placing those requirements in front of customers will generate positive customer feedback of satisfaction.  Good service and speedy addressing of grievances always hail appraisal and the age of social media will help to set the trend on behalf of the company reputation and exceed the marketing operations through shaping customer mindset from the excerpts of social media. Organizations have to build a close relationship with the Supply Chain Management (SCM) for smarter, resilient SCM by increasing the sustainable consumption perspective (Jabbour et al., 2020). Additionally, organizational positive policy for employee sustenance and free health check-ups with vaccination will boost employee morale and the organizational social responsibility towards the needy section of society will build the brand image globally which positively boost the reputation of the brand.

Conclusion

From the above discussion, it may be concluded that organizational intuition to capture the market opportunity with help of strategic planning to sustain in the market in a changing environment and adoption of technology will help to find a broad root for the brand reputation. Better public relations with the help of various media and addressing public grievances speedily will help to grow brand reputation globally.

References

Adidas-group, 2021. [online] Available at: <https://www.adidas-group.com/en/about/profile/> [Accessed 15 September 2021].

Agmeka, F., Wathoni, R.N. and Santoso, A.S., 2019. The influence of discount framing towards brand reputation and brand image on purchase intention and actual behaviour in e-commerce. Procedia Computer Science, 161, pp.851-858.

Boehmer, J. and Harrison, V.S., 2021. No long-term consequences for social irresponsibility? Adidas’ rent incident during the COVID-19 pandemic in Germany. European Sport Management Quarterly, pp.1-24.

de Sousa Jabbour, A.B.L., Jabbour, C.J.C., Hingley, M., Vilalta-Perdomo, E.L., Ramsden, G. and Twigg, D., 2020. Sustainability of supply chains in the wake of the coronavirus (COVID-19/SARS-CoV-2) pandemic: lessons and trends. Modern Supply Chain Research and Applications.

Delta News Hub. 2021. Delta: The world’s most-awarded airline. [online] Available at: <https://news.delta.com/delta-worlds-most-awarded-airline> [Accessed 15 September 2021]

Harvard Business Review. 2021. Delta’s CEO on Using Innovative Thinking to Revive a Bankrupt Airline. [online] Available at: <https://hbr.org/2014/12/deltas-ceo-on-using-innovative-thinking-to-revive-a-bankrupt-airline> [Accessed 15 September 2021].

Hekimoğlu, K., 2018. Impact of Social Media Activities on Maintaining Brand Reputation. Online Communication in the Context of Personal, Virtual and Corporate Identity Formation, p.135.

Krishnamurthy, S., 2020. The future of business education: A commentary in the shadow of the Covid-19 pandemic. Journal of Business Research, 117, pp.1-5.

Shahudin, H.A., 2018. Operational Risk and Its Determinants: Adidas Company and Its Influences on External and Internal Factors. Available at SSRN 3181643.

Theglobeandmail. 2021. [online] Available at: <https://www.theglobeandmail.com/business/international-business/article-adidas-apologizes-for-deferring-rent-payments-on-stores-shut-by/> [Accessed 15 September 2021]

Verčič, A.T. and Ćorić, D.S., 2018. The relationship between reputation, employer branding and corporate social responsibility. Public Relations Review, 44(4), pp.444-452.

Waller, T., 2020. Personal Brand Reputation Management. In Personal Brand Management (pp. 123-139). Springer, Cham.

Yohn, D.L., 2020. Brand authenticity, employee experience and corporate citizenship priorities in the COVID-19 era and beyond. Strategy & leadership.

Zelenka, J. and Hruška, J., 2018. Ways and effectiveness of social media utilization by airlines. Tourism: An International Interdisciplinary Journal, 66(2), pp.227-238.

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