New Study on Influencers from Weber Shandwick

The Company Behind the Brand: In Reputation We Trust

Monumental shifts in the reputation landscape today are transforming how and what companies communicate. Radical changes caused by the Internet, globalization, NGOs/third parties, diminishing returns on traditional media, a more demanding general public and increasing social activism have created a new dynamic where the company behind the brand is becoming as or more important than individual brands themselves.

Weber Shandwick and its research arm, KRC Research, conducted  an online survey among both consumers and executives to answer the  frequently-raised question from corporate officers about how brand and reputation are evolving in this new see-thru, nowhere to hide world.

Products Drive Discussion, with Reputation Close Behind

Weber Shandwick wanted to answer two questions about the relationship  between the brand and corporate reputation. First, what do consumers  need to know about a company that makes it worth their hard-earned dollars?  Second, for executives charged with building and maintaining their company’s hard-won reputation, what needs to be communicated to ensure that their reputation resonates and remains unassailable? The answers to these questions are revealed in the next chart.

Consumers Shape Reputation Instantly

What sources move consumers? Not surprisingly, word of mouth is the leading influence (88%) when it comes to impacting consumers’ opinion of a company, whether its genesis is online or offline. Conversations where company likes and dislikes are discussed are no longer out of the ordinary for the general public. What is noteworthy is the power of online reviews (83%) and online search results (81%) in determining what people say about companies and the brands they make.

Online reviews are nearly as important as word of mouth in determining perceptions and impacting public opinion. There is no doubt that user-generated online reviews such as those found on recommendation sites (such as, TripAdvisor or Yelp in the U.S. and U.K., TaoBao, Ctrip and Dianping in China, and Buscapé and ReclameAQUI in Brazil) have fast-become omnipotent arbiters of brand trust and company assurance.

In Closing

Corporate reputation and brand reputation are now nearly indivisible. The importance of a firm’s reputation matters more than ever and is unified with the reputation of product brands to create one powerful enterprise brand. Consumers want assurance that their well-earned dollars, yuan, pounds or reais are spent on products produced by companies that share their values. They have higher expectations for the companies and the brands they like and are not hesitant to turn their backs when they are disappointed or fooled.

This article is from the Word of Mouth Marketing Association (WOMMA). Read the full report at Weber Shandwick.