How the Ipsos Global Reputation Centre helps organisations leverage their reputation to unlock value

Sally Braidwood, Director of the Ipsos Global Reputation Centre in Australia and New Zealand, talks reputation and how to leverage yours to unlock value.

First off, what is the Ipsos Global Reputation Centre?

The Ipsos Global Reputation Centre (IGRC) has been working with some of the world’s largest organisations for more than 40 years to help them understand reputation, corporate communications and corporate policy development.

The IGRC forms part of Ipsos Public Affairs and we specialise in unlocking and building the value stored in our clients’ reputations to help them make better decisions. By identifying the key drivers and actions that build reputation, we help our clients to align and integrate actions to tackle strategic reputation issues and considerably lift their corporate brand equity.

Reputation? Is that different from brand research?

Different? Yes. But separate? No. We often say your brand is what you say to the world while your reputation is what the world believes about you. Brand research tends to measure consumers’ thoughts around specific product brands; do they like the packaging, is the new scent of the shampoo nice, and so on. Reputation is a broader concept and we focus on our clients as a corporate entity, rather than a collection of product offerings. We tend to measure concepts such as perceptions around how companies are managed or how companies behave in society.

Research is about asking the right questions of the right people and another key difference between brand and reputation research are the stakeholders whose insights we’re interested in. In the context of corporate reputation, it is critically important to identify the stakeholder groups whose views can impact the reputation and performance of the organisation. When considering brand, companies tend to want to hear from the consumer of their product; the person using the shampoo. With reputation research, while consumers are critical, they’re one of many key stakeholders. We also speak to investors, employees, government, NGOs, media, suppliers, local communities, and other audiences. In the end, it is these people who pass judgment on the reputation of your organisation and who determine its success or failure.

Why is reputation so important?

We believe in helping clients to unlock and build the value stored in their reputation. Traditionally, many companies believed that the value of a good reputation was only realised in the event of a crisis. This is referred to as reputation equity: equity that you build up as a in the as bank of goodwill in case there is ever a situation in which the company’s credibility is called into question. i.e., in a crisis. This is a valuable and strategic use of reputational equity. However, there is also a very real present value in reputation that varies by stakeholder audience, including:

  • REGULATORS: can give or refrain from giving you a seat at the table when decisions are being made about your sector and your ability to operate in it
  • NGOs: value comes from understanding their propensity to work with or against you
  • CONSUMERS: desire to buy your products and/or services and to pay a premium for them based on your reputation
  • EMPLOYEES: the ability to attract and retain the best employees, generate employee pride in working for you, likelihood to execute the mission and values of the company
  • MEDIA: disposition to report positively or negatively about you, willingness to hear/present your side of the story
  • INVESTORS: confidence to invest in you, willingness to ride out downturns

And how do you measure reputation? Are there key metrics?

The framework Ipsos uses to measure reputation has been developed over the 40 years of our reputation practice and as a result it’s both intuitive and incredibly powerful. This means it is easily passed up the organisational chain to CEOs and boards as the concepts cut through clearly, and it stands up to statistical rigour.

Our framework is based around a pyramid or an inverted funnel; we start with awareness, because without being known, you can have no reputation. From there, you want your stakeholders to be familiar with you as a corporate entity and then you want what they know about you to leave them feeling favourable towards you. This favourability will lead to an expectation of consistently positive behaviour and delivering on this establishes trust. And then at the top of the pyramid is advocacy, that is the ultimate desire of having your stakeholders willingly behaving in a positive way towards you.

A key part of the Ipsos reputation model is using ‘trust’ as a measure for overall reputation, why does this work?

In our view, if you are building trust you are building reputation. Trust is intuitively the ideal for which companies aim and is the foundation of our approach to reputation.

Companies seek to build trust with their consumers, suppliers, employees and other stakeholders, just as individuals seek to build trust in their daily relationships with family, friends, and colleagues. Why? It’s simple; when you trust someone, you are more likely to believe what they say, you will seek out their advice, you will value their experience and judgment, and ultimately, you will give them your confidence and your business.

Do you use the same approach for every reputation study or is it unique for each client?

At the heart of our approach is the fact that it is tailored to be bespoke and responsive to the unique circumstances of each client we work with. I like to think we offer the best of both worlds; we meet the unique needs of each client by customising our framework so that it reflects their specific operating environment, and at the same time we leverage our global practice and norms database to add additional context and insight for the client.

About Sally

Sally is the Director of the Ipsos Global Corporate Reputation Centre in Australia and New Zealand and specialises in helping clients manage and track their reputations among key stakeholder groups. The ability to deliver strategic business advice based on empirical evidence has seen Sally work closely with the boards and executive teams of public and private sector clients at a local, national and global level. Sally holds a Bachelor of Laws and a Master of Business Research from the University of Western Australia; a foundation which has grounded her ability to overlay robust research findings with commercial understanding. Outside of work, Sally enjoys exploring Australia and the world; one of the great perks that comes with having a fiancé who is an airline pilot.

Ipsos Global Reputation Monitor

The Ipsos Global Reputation centre recently undertook a massive online study of the reputation of more than 100 of the world’s largest companies to examine the factors that contribute to reputational success and resiliency in the face of a crisis. 

The research ranks companies into trust tiers, and explores what makes companies in the top trust tier different, how they perform financially, the impact of trust on resiliency in the face of crisis, and the inter-relationship between trust and Corporate Reputation on a company’s core business performance.