The context we live in today’s is permeated by a powerful drive for disintermediation which, in conjunction with the effects of “fake news” and growing polarisation facilitated by digital media, has made emotions more influential than objectivity.
Reputation, in the sense of the emotional bond that companies build with their stakeholders, is increasingly becoming a real competitive lever that can influence the behaviour of stakeholders (and no longer just their opinions). And when people choose a certain company (to buy, to invest in or to work for), they are increasingly careful about who and what lies behind its products or services.
The reputation of a company depends less and less on what it sells and more and more on the perception of its social role, and particularly its responsibility towards people (Workplace), the environment and the society in which it operates (Citizenship), and the transparency and fairness of its actions (Governance).
To be a leader in the Reputation Economy, companies have to put themselves on the line. After the pomp and splendour of announcement politics, companies are chosen today for the social value they create (and talk about only after the fact). This is the great challenge that companies will face in coming years.
More and more people have stopped believing in the Institutions, in political parties, in trade unions and in trade associations... and now expect companies to tackle the important issues facing society. It is no longer enough today for people to know your name. Companies need to strengthen their emotional bond with stakeholders by taking a stand on important issues (and not only in the sector) and involving them in an innovative vision (of society).
They have to find the courage to look beyond a business’s short-term profitability. Big companies, even if they work in different sectors of the economy, must have converging interests and approaches in order to propose a medium to long-term vision, playing a real and credible leadership role in a period characterised by a vacuum in representation.
People in Italy are asking for the creation of “shared value”, or a positive contribution to social issues through their products and services. Especially in industries that generate negative comments.
There is a lot at stake. Reputation isn’t only the product of a company’s communication, but also one of the most effective intangible assets with which to influence stakeholders’ choices. In the short term, business challenges are hard to win without the legitimation of stakeholder. And this licence to operate is increasingly influenced by the emotional bond they have with companies.
That is why reputation is the new “territory” where companies have to stand out from the rest: with their sights set firmly on the future and their feet planted firmly in their history.