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Brand reputation is as significant to a brand’s success as the product or service it is selling. It can often take years to build a positive brand reputation but only seconds to destroy this hard work. Brand reputation management is so important that icon and reputation management maven, Taylor Swift even wrote a song about this complex topic.

No matter what industry your business falls into, over time, situations arise that put your business’ reputation to the test. For some, this may be a social media blunder, but for others this may include a product recall or even a financial decision that was less than sound. When issues arise that test your brand’s reputation, there are a few key steps that are not only common practice, but also recommended as general first steps for rectifying a blunder.

Transparency and ownership

Both trust and integrity are key elements in creating long-term brand loyalty. Being transparent with your customers, stockholders, employers or anyone that comes into contact with your company allows you to put an end to rumors and provide those involved or affected with as much detail as possible. Being open and honest in a sincere and respectable way not only leads to more trust between a company and its customers, but also showcases a brand’s integrity.

A clear communications plan

In order to retain brand loyalty, it is important that a business quickly communicate a clear and tailored plan that can help achieve their clients’ or customers’ goals. A clearly communicated plan will reassure a company’s audience that they are working to rectify their mistake and that they are dedicated to ensuring this situation does not happen again in the future.

Availability and communication responses

Often times when it is the customer who is affected by a wrongdoing, there becomes a sense of urgency by the customer to have this issue resolved. Many times, a customer will reach out to a larger business via their social media in order to ensure a quicker response. For these types of inquiries, it is important to have someone monitoring social accounts in order to ensure that all customer questions are being fielded. In addition to social media, if your company sends out any sort of email or social campaign, it may be beneficial to include someone within the organization’s contact information (email address) so that those who are reaching out feel as if they have a personal connection inside of the organization who has their best interest at heart.

While the tactics above are often the first steps in rectifying a brand’s reputation, there are additional steps that are more in-depth and timely that help to rectify a brand’s image.