“Your brand is what people say about you when you are not in the room.” – Jeff Bezos

An enterprise/brand is an entity (tangible or otherwise), that exists due to association with the public at large. Simply put, it is here because people choose to have it, and subscribe to whatever it offers them. The reason why they choose to let it exist is because the brand or enterprise has a positive image in their minds, and has built said image by putting out a good product or service, or by simply making itself look good on global forums.

It is safe to say that said image is mostly based on the internet, thanks to the worldwide prevalence of social media and the tendency of global audiences to base the image of a brand on the reviews it has online. Hence the term, Online Reputation.

Regardless of the industry, a brand needs to maintain a solid reputation if it is to survive in the cutthroat corporate sphere and stave off the competition. In this article, we will discuss why it is so, as well as how online reputation impacts the bottom line of a brand/enterprise; with the IT industry in mind.

Online Reputation: How the Internet Governs Brand Image

Go on the internet and type in the name of a product or service you want to know about. Chances are, not only will you find information pertaining to it, but also the reviews and experiences of others who used or subscribed to the company that provides it. This is more valid for the retails business; however, IT course providers and training firms started falling under this umbrella several years ago.

Now, the general information related to it and the reviews of others are two completely different factors here, since one is factual and the other is subjective. However, when deciding whether or not to buy the product or service, more often than not, you will consider both factors, simply because of the human element in the reviews. And, considering how the entirety of the reviews are either on social media or sites dedicated to user reviews, a company can be right in assuming the internet decides how well they do!

With e-commerce taking over traditional brick and mortar-based buying, and companies with decades of traditional commerce now setting up online outlets, reputation has become more than just an identifier – it is now part of the income generation essentials, alongside product quality and customer service. After all, training requires

Factors that Make Up a Brand’s Image Online

The reputation of a brand is made of a few intrinsic factors – as follows:

  • Transparency: Is the brand open with its buyers as well as vendors regarding benefits and losses?
  • Trust: Is the brand trusted among partners and vendors, related to financial and quality matters?
  • Branding Emotion: Does the company’s message invoke positive or significant emotions in the consumers?
  • Social Impact: Does the company or the brand serve or benefit the community in any way?
  • Staff Satisfaction: Is the staff satisfied by internal policies? Are they fairly compensated and appreciated?
  • Inclusiveness: Does the brand reach out to diverse groups? Does the company strive to broaden the audience by including different groups?
  • Customer Treatment: How does the company/brand treat the customer?

These are the universal constants in terms of brand image across any and all forums. In this day and age, with half the global population actively using the internet, ignoring any of these factors can lead to the others being forgotten by the general public. These factors also make for a significant portion of modern customer demand, alongside specific product-related points.

The Importance of a Positive Digital Footprint

What’s once on the internet tends to stay on the internet forever! Same goes for public and professional opinion regarding a service. Opinions, reviews, feedback, likes/dislikes; all tend to affect reputation long after they are posted. Also, the first page of Google results are not always the house of brand reputation. A user may scroll several pages, trying to spot negative comments, which is something a service-based firm needs to remember when crafting a brand strategy.

According to a consumer review survey, 84 percent of consumers trust online product reviews just as much as word-of-mouth or personal recommendations. Additionally, a vast majority place their trust in search engine results and the content they present.

These results form perceptions, and if we speak of the IT training industry at large, perceptions matter, perhaps slightly more. Due to the specificity of the service and the limited yet stiff competition, each essential element (site font, color, interactive elements, vides, images etc.) is a major building block of the overall perception, which, in turn, affects the brand’s digital footprint.

Online Reputation and Cyber Security

Protecting the reputation of a brand online is mostly a responsibility of the marketing and brand image department. The reputation, incidentally, suffers tremendous damage in case of a data breach or potential cyber-attack. In case of a brand as important as that of an IT training firm, a data breach/leak could result in direct losses, which is why it is important for the marketing and brand image managers to have a hold on the cyber security infrastructure of the company.

Cyber security training can help marketing people come to grips with protecting company reputation online by protecting against potential security risks. Additionally, it can aid with plugging holes in each new marketing strategy, while using the newly bolstered security as another plus point towards the online reputation.