Reputation as an intangible asset

I was researching a prospective employer today and decided to pass on submitting an application. The position is a good fit for my experience and education, but the company isn’t a good fit for me. That started me thinking about reputation. It’s one of those intangible assets that aren’t quantified on a company’s balance sheet. Even so, reputation has significant value. Whether you are a for- or non-profit organization, or even a job seeker, your reputation impacts your desirability. Do I want to be a customer or a partner or an employee – or wear the logo – of a company with a poor reputation?  Would I rather use or be associated with a business that’s admired? Or one with regular product recalls?

One interesting thing about reputation is its power to differentiate organizations. Another is the way it’s always being shaped, decision by decision, stakeholder interaction by interaction, driven by the choices made by the organization’s people who lead and those who follow. If reputation is important to an organization, it follows that its employees need to understand what the organization values – the values that their actions must uphold and reinforce. Define your values and hire people who believe in those values, and you’re more likely to get the good reputation (and business success) that you deserve.

I once heard public relations defined as ‘doing good and getting credit for it.’ Virtue may be its own reward, but profits are important as well.  Whether you measure reputation through changes in your Net Promoter score, Harris Interactive ‘Reputation Quotient,’ The Reputation Institute’s RepTrakor, or some other systematic process, it’s likely an important driver or contributor to your business success – not an uninvolved bystander.

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