If you get all this right, then you should develop a reputation for your business so that whenever someone sees your logo, they’ll be moved to place an order.

Of course this doesn’t always all go to plan though and sometimes you’ll find that your customers make life difficult for you, or that you have a bad day and you drop the ball. When this happens, you can find yourself accruing bad reviews and developing a bad reputation. This is the downside of a brand and pretty much the opposite of what we’re aiming for.

When this happens, you can use a technique called ‘reputation management’ to try and fix your rep and get things back on track.

Reputation management is something that you can do in person through interviews and statements but these days it often refers to a form of ‘SEO’ – Search Engine Optimization. The simple question is: when someone searches for your brand, what do they find? And is it good?

There are three outcomes here:

  • Your business doesn’t show up at all (bad)
  • Your business shows up but mainly with bad reviews (worse)
  • Your business shows up and looks great (good!)

SEO is a technique that involves getting any given web page or website to the top of the search rankings. This then means that when someone looks for your brand online, you can define what comes up first.

Of course the ideal scenario here is that it’s your website that comes up first. This way, you can completely control the first impression that people get about your business and determine exactly what they first read about you. You’ll do this by filling your site with lots of relevant content, by finding keywords and inserting them into your content and by building lots of links. You should also be certain to list your business with the online directories such as Google My Business and Foursquare (if relevant).

At the same time though, you also want to ensure that positive reviews show above negative ones. To do this, you might have to perform some SEO for the positive reviews – but at the same time you also need to try and ensure that you have more positive reviews than negative.

How do you do that? There are a number of strategies. One is to provide the best service or business possible so that the experience people have with your business will be positive. On top of that though, it’s also a good idea to request that they leave a positive review. Simply asking “if you enjoyed our service, please leave a positive review on TripAdvisor” is a great way to nudge someone to write about you if they otherwise wouldn’t. And this is particularly important when you consider that people are generally much more likely to write about negative experiences than positive ones when left to their own devices!

Another important tip is to respond to reviews on these sites. Most sites give the option for you to do this and that way you can apologise for their experience and perhaps offer compensation/say how you will improve in future. Don’t be defensive or protective – just apologise and show you’ve listened. This can undermine the damaging effect of a bad review and if you’re really lucky, the reviewer might even change their score!

How to Handle a Rebranding

If things get really bad, then you might decide to have a rebrand. This should be considered a last resort as it can render a lot of the work you’ve put in so far pointless. However, if you want to protect your business from a bad reputation or if your audience/industry is changing, then it can be a good decision. A rebrand can also be useful if your brand has become muddled or lost in any way.

When rebranding, you need to maintain a connection to your old brand and try to avoid the idea that you have a bad reputation. Instead, focus on the change and how you are changing yourself as a business in terms of your mission statement, your products or your services. Creative a narrative that your business is changing and so is your name and demonstrate how you’re going to be bigger, better and more efficient than ever before.

Always think about the customer and what this means for them. Don’t rebrand to try and ‘be cool’ or to shrug off bad press. Those might be motivations too, but keep the focus on your value proposition and what you’re going to do differently to be better.

A recent example of a rebrand was ODesk which became UpWork. ODesk was a freelancer site that had developed something of a reputation for a “lowest-price-rules” mentality which didn’t really benefit the freelancers or the clients. The name change was designed to help the company move away from this idea and thus with the new name and new logo, came a push to encourage high quality workers to charge for their premium services.