With the birth of a brand, its reputation is born. Just like the brand itself, the reputation needs to be nurtured and, more importantly, protected. Reputation can’t be built on what you are promising to deliver or achieve, it is only dependent on the promises that you keep, on whether you walk the talk.
It takes years, even decades, to build the reputation of a luxury brand and just moments to ruin it as the Oracle of Omaha rightly said. So a brand custodian’s primary responsibility along with building the brand is to protect and build on the reputation.
With luxury brands, as these are not personality-dependent, the reputation management is primarily managing the reputation of the product or service in the eyes of the customers.
With the social media becoming all-powerful, this is a medium that needs to be kept under strict observation. One tweet can snowball into a reputation disaster in no time, even for the biggest of the brands. Not very long back, a huge brand, which is primarily into trunks and other leather/canvas goods, had released an ad where it showed that the trunks were hand-made. The reality was different and the trunks were machine-made and only a small part of the stitching process was manual. This truth after it was exposed on social media had dented the reputation of the brand significantly.
So, the first lesson is to know that honesty is the best policy. A brand is basically the sum of its virtues and its reputation is sum of how much it is living up to those virtues. So if the brand is living up to its brand promise then it is able to not only protect but also build its reputation.
A brand has promises to keep. And customer satisfaction is the biggest promise. Ensuring that a customer is satisfied with the promises made by the luxury brand is the biggest responsibility of the brand custodian, besides building the brand. As every touch point of the brand is responsible for making the brand, they can also ruin the reputation in no time. Just one rude behaviour by a boutique assistant can generate an apathy in the mind of the customers and social media can add momentum, mass and voices to this grievance. So, it is literally a walk on the tightrope. Every element of the brand has to ensure that only the best is delivered to the customer as they are the king.
Luxe is experiential. So the premium that a brand charges for the luxe is largely dependent on the experience of the customer. Thus one rude behaviour or even a slight reluctance to serve can break it bad.
So, reputation management for a luxury brand comprises three aspects: living up to the brand promises, living up to the brand virtues and keeping customer at the centre of its universe.