Reputation: The Stuff That Sticks

August 01, 2017
Ed Coke

The world is constantly looking for definitive answers, often via short cuts. With ambiguity, limited attention spans and increasing complexity in every aspect of our lives, there is an overwhelming desire for companies, people and even ideas to receive a label to make things easy: ‘good’, ‘bad’, ‘exciting’, ‘new’, ‘responsible’, ‘fair’.

Many definitions abound, but, in my view, reputation can best be described as ‘the stuff that sticks’. Every company has a reputational label that sticks with them, whether it’s crafted over years through expertly managed corporate communications, or simply as a result of a one-off damaging crisis.

When it comes to reputation, one of the biggest challenges for many companies comes in identifying what is most likely to stick, among which stakeholders, and, most critically, what emotional and behavioural reactions will arise as a result.

One useful technique to understand the ‘stuff that sticks’ is to apply the BTV framework - Behaviours, Talents and Values - among the stakeholders that matter: how is a company seen to behave? What is it good at? And what does it believe in, above and beyond its commercial goals?

For each, establish a hierarchy of relevance. Then understand the depth of emotion each Behaviour, Talent and Value holds. Which prompt anger instead of indifference? Which encourage feelings of joy and contentment? And which are most likely to encourage change?

Honing down corporate reputation to those Behaviours, Talents and Values that truly stick is one of the principles upon which my new consultancy, Repute Associates has been founded.