A serviceable definition of a corporate brand is ‘what we say and believe about ourselves’. It’s our authentic identity, our unique gene – what makes us, us. By contrast, we can think about a corporate reputation as ‘what others say about us when we’re not in the room’ – our image, or what others expect us to be like, and to do.
Part of our job, as communications researchers, is to understand and analyse the distance between our brand and our reputation – the misconceptions, or perception gaps, if you like. To what extent is our true reflection distorted or obscured, when it reaches the eyes of our most important audiences?
Once we‘re armed with a clearer understanding of any such disconnects, and their root causes, we can develop communications and engagement plans which will gradually close these gaps. Our reputation will then be an authentic mirror image of our brand, and our stakeholders will interact with us in the ways we would want and hope.Except, of course, it’s not that easy.