The management of intangibles has become one of the greatest opportunities for value creation for organizations. It represents a challenge, but also a great opportunity for most companies.

In business, an intangible asset is a non-physical asset that contributes to a company’s overall economic value and reputation. In other words, intangibles are abstract assets that can add value to the company. Examples of intangible assets include intellectual property and patents, software licenses, trade names, trade secrets, trademarks, and trade mark recognition. Although these assets do not exist in physical form, entities can buy and sell them. In this case, we are interested in better understanding the relationship between the last two: brands and perceptions, which lead directly to reputation.

The classic models of
Brand Management
They have not paid enough attention to the overall management of the intangible resources derived from brand management (culture, behaviours, communication) and which directly affect the perception of the different audiences to which it is addressed. On this path, it is necessary to broaden the scenario of action, from the emission of a given image to the reality of its perception. It is, therefore, a bilateral process involving both the sender (construction of the image) and the receiver (interpretation of the image).

Brand identity, image and reputation

I think it is appropriate to clarify the concepts first. Despite the fact that there is a wide variety of interpretations, from my point of view, talking about identity Brand (corporate, personal, product, etc.) is synonymous with referring to all those elements that make up its appearance and identification. That is, your name, your logo, your personality traits, etc. Identity represents who we are (
brand essence
) and what we want to do (
brand purpose

But brands are living beings and, as such, their main purpose is to reach their audience, make them fall in love with it and keep it. The vehicle for achieving this goal is communication, in its broadest sense, regardless of the lever that is activated for it. It is at this point that he projects a image determined in relation to their own identity. But the key to the projection of this image is not in how it is emitted, but in how it is received: the result of perceptions, projections, experiences, sensations, emotions and one’s own or shared experiences.

It should be considered that each of the transmissions of this image can be perceived differently by the different audiences of interest, building a series of mental associations specific to each group. All this is influenced by a large number of external agents (competitors, third-party opinions, news, etc.) that are added uncontrollably to the communication itself and that are affected by behaviors. This result of the crystallization of the image makes up what we mean by Reputation (brand, corporate, personal, etc.).

Formally, at Branward we define reputation as “the consolidated prestige that a brand achieves in the eyes of all its customers. Stakeholders by the actions they carry out over time, which is formed as a result of their interactions in the world off/online and that it includes different data about it, created and published by the brand or by third parties.”

Brand & Reputation

According to the Reality Index report

, the main levers to change citizens’ perception of brands are: reputation, trust and feeling valued. Thus, brand and reputation become a fertile ground for business competition.

If brands are born from people and target people, it’s clear that how they make them feel is the key to gaining their trust. Today it is not feasible to understand the management of brands without associating it with the management of the perceptions of the different audiences to which it is addressed. But be careful, it is not a matter of measuring the result of the actions undertaken by the brand, but of including a reputation strategy from the beginning, linked to the brand strategy itself and, in turn, to that of the business itself.

Key Elements of Reputation Management

Companies should consider at least these 6 elements:

  1. Credibility. Earning it means being true to principles, to a purpose, to being honest and acting accordingly. Both internally and externally.
  2. Responsibility. Being authentic forces brands to take an active role in society and offer what their target audiences expect from it.
  3. Transparency. Technology has created a “glass society” where today anyone has access to all kinds of information. The honesty expected of brands forces them to increase their transparency in everything that affects society.
  4. Empathy. Citizens expect brands to understand them, to understand what they need and care about, to speak in their own language.
  5. Safety. Digitalization has enabled great advances, but it also entails great risks. It is necessary to avoid any kind of ethical violation and compliance with obligations.
  6. Acceptance of Errors. Making mistakes is human, brands address people, and in the face of any mistake what is expected is an immediate apology followed by the appropriate corrective measures.

Reputation & Branding

We have seen that there is a whole journey from the creation of an identity, to the projection of an image and the generation of a reputation. The main challenge is to minimise the Gap between the image sent and the one received. Monitoring brand reputation and comparing it to your identity can provide

Very interesting insights for a review of the strategy or how it has been carried out.

Identity, image and reputation are not new terms in branding. Achieving a sustainable image must start with achieving a strong identity that represents the company’s values and culture. Reputation management, on the other hand, should be based on a wider scope that pays special attention to behaviours and communication, through its various stakeholders and points of contact; in addition to considering external agents as the opinions of third parties. It is a vision that entails a much more effective scope for branding, taking into account the management of the cause and the control of the effect.

Abraham Lincoln said that “a brand is like a tree and its reputation is like its shadow”. In the current framework, the shadow surpasses the reality of the tree itself. No one can afford to make a mess of it.


Carlos Puig Falcó
CEO of Branward