Brand Management vs Online Reputation Management

Image Credit: Kampus Production

As of late, a lot of companies have been investing in online reputation management (ORM) and brand management. However, some tend to think that the two terms can be used interchangeably, almost blending them, in some cases. 

This is far from true as they both mean distinct things:

Brand management is when a specific set of marketing techniques are applied to a brand, product or product line. The chief objective is to improve and increase the said product, brand or product line’s perceived value to the target audience – thereby increasing overall online brand equity. 

Online reputation management has to do with actively monitoring, addressing or mitigating negative online search results, negative content and reviews, or negative mentions across a company’s social media and web profiles. The main goal is to mitigate, remove or improve any kind of content online which may be harming a business’s reputation.

But that’s only a very broad definition of each, and even though, perhaps, some parallels can be drawn between the two, in reality, they are quite different from each other. This article explores the unique differences between brand management vs. online reputation management. 

Brand Management vs. Online Reputation Management: Key differences explained

While brand management is all about shaping up a specific perspective or perception around a product (influencing or changing the way your target audience sees the brand in isolation) – online reputation management focuses specifically on driving business performance based on your target audience’s real-life experiences. So, in case the latter, the act of monitoring, managing and improving sentiments around your brand or product is what forms the basis of online reputation management. 

We’ve drawn a few comparisons in order to help you better understand how the two are distinct:

How they are guided

When we talk about brand management, it tends to be guided mostly by a historical perspective. For example, “How does the business look now to customers compared to, say, 2-4 years ago?” is a question which frequently comes up in brand management. 

So, as you might imagine, it’s a low-engagement and generally slow-moving process, where the brand value is usually measured in retrospect, either once or twice a year.

Online reputation management, however, is very much about “here and now”. It measures and responds to live customer feedback, where measures are put in place to monitor and remove or change any negative piece of content which surfaces online about the business.  

How they are driven 

Brand management is always ‘distanced’ from direct customer actions and/or experiences, except when tied to a crisis event of course – e.g. a customer issue which makes it to national headlines or a new CEO caught up in a scandal. 

Online reputation management is driven only by customer feedback which they leave on specific events and experiences. 

How they are used

With brand management, a limited set of data is used to determine brand value. This typically involves cold-calling, emailing a random public sample, asking for brand opinions online, surveys, etc. – or corporate data like earnings reports. 

ORM actually uses thousands to millions of data points in the form of ‘live’ customer feedback through surveys and also based on ubiquitous review sites: TrustPilot, Glassdoor, Google, Facebook, or any industry-specific review site. This helps to capture sentiments from hundreds to thousands and even millions of customers who have had recent, real-world interactions with a brand. 

How they are applied 

Brand management is applied and optimised across fairly large organisations who have already built brand recognition and have a generally broad public mindshare. Therefore, it may not be all that effective for smaller businesses or brands who do not command a major profile on social media or mainstream media, or who are not publicly traded. 

ORM, on the other hand, can be applied to pretty much any size and type of organisation – from a small store or dealership to global retail brands or, specialised businesses such as healthcare. 

Final thoughts on the key differences between Brand Management and ORM

To close off our discussion, remember: choosing one over the other makes little sense, and using a combination of both at the right time, and especially, according to your business circumstances – is more appropriate. 

ORM is very important as it allows you to ‘monitor’ what people are saying about your brand. It helps you take the necessary steps to mitigate customer concerns AND deal with the negative content as soon as possible. 

Brand management is just as important – if the scale of your company demands it – as it can have a drastic impact on your brand’s perceived value. 

Hopefully, this article has helped you understand the key differences between the two, as there are a specific set of tasks associated with each, and in order to attain complete success, you must strategically utilise both.

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