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Brand <> Reputation?

I was reading a book recently and it equated brand with reputation. My first thought was "aha", that brand is just a fancier/newer word for reputation and why I hadn't I matched those two up before? But as I thought about it a little more, I'm not sure the two are the same. I think of brands as the very public face we project, the one that gets our foot in the door or that causes people to contact us with work, where reputation is something that's determined by what you do rather than what you say you'll do.

I think that's an important distinction because building a brand can often just be cosmetics. Yes, it takes some work, but there are ways to short cut that and even if you don't, that brand may not accurately reflect who you are - it could be who you want to be, or who you think I want you to be.

Reputation is something you earn by being who you are. You can be nice, or not, hard working or not, reliable or not, fun to work with, or not. You can try to earn a reputation for being whatever, but you don't get to decide what your reputation is. Of course that doesn't mean you can't work on your bad habits or your rough edges to make your reputation stronger.


I'm Andy Warren, currently a SQL Server trainer with End to End Training. Over the past few years I've been a developer, DBA, and IT Director. I was one of the original founders of SQLServerCentral.com and helped grow that community from zero to about 300k members before deciding to move on to other ventures.


Posted by Steve Jones on 22 April 2009

Interesting thoughts. I had equated the two fairly closely, but perhaps brand encompasses reputation, but also includes something else?

I'm not sure here. My Branding talk is about putting efforts in to raise your profile, to make yourself stand out, and that's really your reputation. Who you are, what you do (or have done), what you stand for.

Perhaps reputation is what others think of your brand?

Posted by Mike on 22 April 2009

In the past, I used to run brand equity programs for rather large companies.

Simply stated, the difference between brand and reputation has to do with the direction you look at it. A brand is something you (try to) put in the market. A reputation is how the market sees you.

One can for example have a very strong brand, but therefore not a good reputation. McDonalds is for example seen as one of the strongest brands in the world. It's reputation however is not that of healthy food.

On the other hand, both concepts are not completely independent either. It will be a lot easier for a strong brand to generate a good reputation than the other way around. When e.g. Ferrari attaches it's name to a new perfume, everyone assumes, at first, that is good quality stuff. It's only after repetitive bad experience with the perfume by a lot of people that it will loose it's good reputation. When I, having no brand image, put a perfume on the market, it will probably need to satisfy a lot of people before I get a bit of a reputation.

Hope this explains a bit the difference.

Posted by Andy Warren on 23 April 2009

Don't users still distinguish between brand and reputation? In other words, they have a view of what the company is and how well it meets view, which seems slightly different than saying McD's has a reputation for less than healthy food?

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