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Branding, Reputation, and the Internet

Kristen Fowler Lindsey - Friday, August 19, 2005

Del Galloway, a partner with Husk Jennings Galloway and Robinson, recently presented an excellent seminar and luncheon in town about branding.

Now branding in some ways is a maligned and misapplied marketing concept these days, but Del provided and excellent thread of thought about how branding interrelates with other intangible but important aspects of a company's image.

A main theme was a discussion about the difference between a company's reputation and its brand. As a case study, we discussed Wal-Mart.

Wal-mart has had many hits to its company reputation recently. It is facing a lot of bad press and lawsuits regarding bullying treatment of suppliers, disregard for local land-use guidelines and community attitudes, labor relations problems, discrimination against women, and more.

But has that impacted its brand image, which is the lowest prices anywhere? For example, if you disagree with these policies Wal-mart pursues, have you stopped shopping there? Or, if you do shop there, do you think about these policies when you shop and feel any guilt?

Del features the Internet as a primary venue where this interrelation between brand and reputation can take place. For example, a search on Google for "wal-mart Internet protest" brings up a number of sites using the Internet to organize and rally supporters, yet a Wal-Mart ad displays right next to these sites.

As with so many other aspects of our lives, this is another example of how the Internet impacts even the most obscure conversations in our society.

Do you have any examples of how you have experienced the impact of the Internet on your efforts to brand your company or build its reputation? I'd love to hear them.

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