The results are in: reputation = long-term survival

Has your organisation fully grasped the importance of contributing to its reputational health every day? If not, it’s probably time to start.

We all know that in this social media age, people have a vast array of ways to express their views about what you’re doing, good and bad. More and more research is now catching up with community behaviour, showing businesses and organisations that actively build reputation and work on resilience are most likely to succeed in this reputation-driven economy.

A new report released by Harvard Business School takes this one step further, describing reputation and resilience as key ingredients that determine whether companies will survive tumultuous markets.

Regardless of whether a business operates in a developing or developed economy, the authors say there’s one element in common; an organisation’s reputation is crucial for its long-term success. The report looked at reputation as a combination of three factors - prominence, perceived quality, and resilience.

The third, resilience, really comes into play in emerging markets. As one writer said, “when you’re negotiating in a turbulent environment you feel reassured if the entity you are transacting with is likely be around tomorrow”.

The many business leaders interviewed as part of the research shared a common message. Most found there was a direct return in investing in their reputation, including attracting talented staff and having customers appreciate what they stood for. They also reiterated that reputation takes generations to build and can be severely damaged by just one incident.

Interestingly, the report concluded that reputation has both offensive and defensive elements – making it valuable to organisations during positive and negative economic cycles. The authors remarked: “Very few strategic constructs can work in both good times and bad.”

Your reputation can make or break you, but particularly at times of turbulence and change (which is just about all the time these days). According to the research, at its very core reputation provides stability and having a favourable reputation can give your customers and clients confidence in you and your future. The authors suggest this very stability provides a springboard for organisations to make changes in an ever-changing environment.

While you can’t control your reputation - it’s made up of what other people think of you and your business - you can actively contribute to it by the words you speak and how people directly experience you. That’s never been more important in an age when anyone can make unfettered comments across global channels. It’s vital to do everything you can to ensure those comments are positive.