How Do Brands Work on Their Reputation? Branding in the Web 2.0 Era

In this day and age, reputation (the perception that people could have of a corporate brand) and taking care of it has become a main priority for companies. Branding has existed since the Thirties, when the first reputation-based management techniques appeared. Nevertheless, the birth of the Internet and social networking has completely changed the rules of the game. "When we think about branding, we think about forming a relationship with the public and people associating prestige and popularity with a brand, which in turn allows us to secure a relationship in terms of purchasing, and an attractive approach. Sometimes though, brand managers forget that these days the public is always hyperconnected, so what it thinks about your brand or company isn't normally what you tell it, however much you represent Coca-Cola or give it your own personal touch, or pour creativity into it... Today what defines a brand is what people hear or talk about with other people (colleagues, specialists in determined fields, journalists or influencers). Managing all of that information is not about branding any more, it is about reputation", explains Milton Vela, the manager of Cafè Taipa and alumnus of the Master in Communication Management offered by UPF-IDEC.

In a conference at UPF Barcelona School of Management Milton Vela warned that: "A lot of marketing campaigns don't take reputation into consideration. They put together a good advert, or come up with a good design or web banner, but they have no idea what people are saying about them and the effect it will have when it comes to people's perception of them or their final opinion. The reputation of a brand no longer solely depends on the efforts made by the companies. The public have become leaders of opinion and what it thinks influences purchasing decisions. If the company does not monitor its reputation or take it into consideration, it loses control over it".

According to Vela, social networks have given the power to the customer. He concludes that "In the Eighties, the customer supposedly had power, but there was rarely any concrete evidence of this. Nowadays, they truly have that power. It is not a threat. Customers can be great to have on your side and have a lot of credibility, as people are more credible than brands."