How Brand Reputations are Under Threat in 2018 Marketing

By Simon Wadsworth on March 15th 2018

There have never been so many ways for brands to assert their identity and to engage with customers. Whether its using social media channels to share content, reaching out to consumers via a tightly constructed PR campaign or responding to reviews, brand managers have more opportunities than ever to market their products.

Global brands are under increasing threat from poor or unfounded reviews, historic and inaccurate press coverage or material created and shared maliciously. And in an age where this type of content can be distributed within seconds, the potential for serious brand damage and financial harm is immense.

The company I work for, Igniyte, are reputation specialists and we specialise in monitoring and countering these threats on behalf of brands, businesses and individuals across the world. Our latest research, the Reputation Report 2018, looks at the scale of the problem here in the UK – and the figures make for worrying reading.

The threat

The scale of the problem is vast. One in three businesses (31 per cent) we spoke to told us that negative content had already damaged their business. Another third were worried about the impact this kind of material could have on their operation in future.

And while the threat from reviews and social media posts remains strong, it is actually negative press coverage that is seen as posing the biggest threat.

Almost half – 46 per cent – of those we spoke to had been affected or had concerns about press material, and more than a quarter (26 per cent) of the businesses we questioned said this was their main concern moving forward too.

More general critical online content was seen as the number one worry for another 14 per cent, while negative social media posts and reviews are still viewed as most damaging by ten per cent.

Reviews are another major cause for concern, with 41 per cent of our respondents admitting negative feedback was causing them the most problems.

A further one in three (31%) felt negative social media posts posed the greatest threat to their brand. The same amount – 31% – were worrying about posts from disgruntled former employees, while 25% felt that competitors were their main problem and 23% referenced content about senior employees.


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The cost

So whats the effect of all this negativity? Just how damaging is it? And what more can brands do to protect themselves?

According to our Reputation Report 2018 research, failing to manage negative content is costing British brands dearly.

One in 20 of the companies questioned revealed damaging content has cost them a staggering £500,000 or more. That’s enough to finish off smaller brands altogether.

Another 5% said they’ve lost between £100,000 and £500,000 because of on and offline negativity about their company and employees, while one in seven have lost up to £50,000.

The solution

So far, so worrying. But there are ways to prepare for and counter negative content – before any damage is done.

Taking preventative action is a must, with many businesses starting to do this as part of their essential PR and brand marketing planning.

An overwhelming majority – 95% – of the brands we spoke to are now actively looking to monitor their own reputation. 

This doesnt have to be an expensive process. Using simple tools like Google Alerts and keyword searches can give a basic overview. Meanwhile other companies are investing in more powerful monitoring solutions, like Brandwatch Analytics which can monitor all of the conversation around a brand as well as setting up custom Alerts and Signals that can raise the alarm when negative conversation increases.

A fifth (21%) of the people we spoke to use specialists tools and alerts in this way while another 17% are enlisting the help of expert agencies – up from 10% in 2014.

We have developed our own Reputation Index which we use to give clients an up-to-date livesnapshot of their brand reputation, highlighting areas that may need work.

As our research clearly shows, doing nothing will put reputations at risk, but being aware of the dangers – and planning ahead to mitigate them – will help brands build robustness and resilience in 2018 and beyond.

Find out more about Igniyte and the work they do here.


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