In an interview in the May 21, 2012 issue of Fortune, Fred Smith, founder and CEO of Fedex, talks about “reputational intelligence.” It is a concept they use in running the company because “…at the end of the day, we’re essentially selling trust,” he says. Amen to that!
I found more in an article entitled, “The Reputational Intelligence Reward,” written by William G. Margaritis, senior vice president of global communications and investor relations at FedEx, published April 28, 2010 on chiefexecutive.net. Great stuff, and the quotations below are excerpts from that article.
Brand vs. Reputation
At first, I was somewhat perturbed that they think of their reputation as separate from their brand. But then, Margaritis explained that in the research they had done, they found that people tend to view brand as what a company sells and reputation as what a company stands for.
“While it is important to recognize the distinct differences of reputation and brand, it is equally important to understand the complementary nature of the two. A company’s reputation brings its brand to life. A company’s brand can frame its reputation and predispose stakeholders to expect positive behaviors from the company and its people.” I would add that a company’s brand and its reputation are not only complementary, they are inseparable!
Fedex wisely realizes that this must be embedded in the company culture, and it must come from the top. As I said in a previous blog post, Brand Walk, Brand Talk, successful branding is drawn from the essence of the company: how it is run, what the owners or executives value, what the culture is like.
Deep in the C-Suite
“Maximizing the business value of a company’s reputation requires embedding reputational intelligence in the C-suite. Company leaders must have a deep understanding of the power and influence of a company’s emotive behaviors – intangible values embedded in the culture of the company and consistently reflected in the actions of employees.
“To be clear, reputational intelligence requires either a strong, positive existing corporate culture or the determination of C-suite leaders to build one. They must recognize that every action of every employee potentially contributes to the company’s reputation, either pro or con. They must champion programs that not only help employees understand this, but also empower them to act positively on the company’s behalf and recognize them when they do.”
There is a company that gets it!