According to a Forbes article, what do Rolex, Lego and Hallmark have in common? According to 2017 data from the Reputation Industry, they’re three of the five most reputable companies in America. Their placement is a combination of nostalgia, corporate responsibility and a willingness to focus on reputation strength. Today’s online shoppers have a considerable hold on brands. From small and medium-sized businesses to large corporations, the power of social media and online review sites has meant a distinct shift in power to consumers when it comes to brand reputations. Customers are now powerful enough to make or break companies via their online feedback. Brands are increasingly waking up to this new reality and doubling down on reputation monitoring and management as an essential component of their growth strategy. Failure to engage in reputation management can be disastrous for brands, regardless of their business’ size. The ability to successfully build a strong brand reputation comes down to a number of factors:Brand Transparency How open your business is with consumers and vendors, both with good news and bad? Social Good How does your business give back to the community and contribute to making the world a better place, even if just in a small way?Integrity Can consumers and business partners trust your company, both in the quality of products/services you offer and your brand communications? Inspirational Branding Does your company’s branding make the public feel better/want to do better/think better of your business? Staff Treatment And Happiness Are you treating your staff with respect and fairness, or does your company have a public facade and an entirely different persona when it comes to staff treatment? Knowing how to build a strong corporate reputation is essential, but so, too, is managing your brand reputation on a consistent basis. The impact on your brand can be severe if you don’t react quickly and efficiently to negative public commentary. Understand Reasoning Behind Negative Commentary And Attention Retailers that make the effort to understand the reasoning behind negative feedback have a much better chance of repairing the damage. Is your company’s negative attention a result of a poor shipping experience? Was a consumer made to feel like they weren’t being heard and your company needs to adjust customer service practices or processes? When you understand why negative reactions happened, you are in a better position to develop long-term fixes to avoid such events in the future — proactively investigate and address. SEO Search engine optimization is crucial if your company wants to ensure the top rank of search engine results are filled with positive results rather than negative. A concerted effort to reduce the prominence of negative feedback regarding your company is a must. Proactive Monitoring Regardless of whether your business has ever received negative online attention, ongoing brand reputation monitoring is imperative. Failure to monitor social networks and review sites could mean you not only miss the opportunity to immediately engage with negativity, but you also miss the opportunity to connect with those posting positive feedback about your brand — if the former occurs, it can quickly spiral out of control. Businesses that understand the shift in consumer power are better positioned to maximize their brand reputation opportunities. A Maya Angelou quote is highly relevant: “I did then what I knew best; when I knew better, I did better.” Well said, Ms. Angelou. Retailers and brands need to commit to doing better, knowing their reputation is in the hands of a socially empowered public — one that is exponentially growing.