Bloomberg searches for meaning of ‘Corporate Reputation’

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Bloomberg Media shared the findings of “Corporate Reputation,” a new proprietary study highlighting the importance of corporate reputation for the long-term success of a brand.

The results were shared during Bloomberg Media’s Defining Corporate Reputation workshop at the Cannes Lions Festival under its “Good Business” banner.

Bloomberg Media’s Industry Accelerator surveyed more than 1,000 senior business decision makers in the United States, United Kingdom, Hong Kong and Singapore to discover actionable insights around corporate reputation for business and marketing leaders.

The results from the study uncover how business leaders define corporate reputation, how they see its value, who they see as responsible for it and their strategies for building it.

The study revealed that global business leaders agree that brand is a critical factor in driving business success. Across markets and functions, corporate reputation is seen as “the cornerstone of brand differentiation and market leadership.”

Influencing corporate reputation

The factors that most influence corporate reputation are trust and action, with 26% of respondents associating corporate reputation with trust and ethical practices, and respondents ranking Actions & Conduct as the #1 element that shapes corporate reputation.

It also found that regional differences uncover what matters most in each market. At 39%, the US ranks Trust & Credibility higher than any other market, while Hong Kong ranks it lowest at 13%.

Hong Kong and the UK put Actions & Conduct first, indicating a “show don’t tell” perspective, while Singapore is the only market to prioritise Image & Perception, implying that “seeing is believing.”

“Business leaders are facing a trust crisis with global economic instability, the emergence of AI, and many other challenges that are currently shaping brands”, said Michelle Lynn, Global Head of Data and Insights, Bloomberg Media.

“We created our first-ever corporate reputation study as a resource for our business partners to help them understand how to wield their reputation to build trust with all stakeholders”.

The value and prioritisation of corporate reputation is perceived differently among different cohorts. The study segmented these cohorts into skeptics, believers and moderates.

The study found that 54% of global business leaders are skeptics. Those who are skeptical of corporate reputation tend to be at the highest levels of the organisation and are most responsible for building and maintaining it.

This cohort regards innovation as a way to enhance corporate reputation and believes that thought leadership is the most effective external channel for positively influencing corporate reputation.

The study found that 22% of business leaders are believers—those who value corporate reputation—and that they are more likely to represent the next generation of leadership and prioritise it over other business results.

When it comes to building corporate reputation, the study found that externally-focused functions including customer service (57%), marketing (50%), and investor relations (47%) are seen as most responsible, while internally-focused functions, including public relations (43%), legal and compliance (41%) and human resources (40%), while still important, are seen as less responsible.

These internally-focused functions are key to building trust, an important component of corporate reputation, which points to the fact that corporate reputation is cross-functional and everyone in the organisation should be held accountable for it to help drive business growth.

The study results also showed that marketers, who are on the front line of building and measuring corporate reputation, tend to be the most skeptical of the benefits of corporate reputation, and one in two marketers admit to spending 10% or less of their budget on corporate reputation.

Marketing’s KPIs for corporate reputation have expanded to include less traditional metrics like Innovation, which shows how its role is expanding beyond brand building to more technology-focused endeavours.

Technology can be a double-edged sword for corporate reputation. While most business leaders see digital media as the top external channel for positively influencing corporate reputation, 61% believe that the negative impact of leading edge tech like GenAI on corporate reputation will outweigh the benefits.

To strengthen corporate reputation, the findings showed that business leaders rely on “building blocks” that align with their core functions and audiences, prioritising: products and services, financial performance, innovation, customer service and digital responsibility, as their top five.

At 51%, Social Responsibility isn’t far behind the top five, which shows that while companies are not emphasising ESG and DEI in public as much, it is still core to corporate reputation.

The study revealed the top challenges to building corporate reputation are accessing technologies and analytics for brand monitoring as well as forming partnerships with reputable organisations.

These challenges indicate the importance of, not only tracking corporate reputation, but finding the right partnerships and alignments.

“Corporate Reputation” is part of Bloomberg Industry Accelerator which provides industry-leading research on critical topics and groups, including Wealth, Travel, Financial Advisors, etc.

Industry Accelerator is one offering within the Bloomberg Accelerator Suite, the company’s proprietary data platform for driving insights, activation, and targeting for advertising partners.

Alongside the Industry Accelerator sits the Bloomberg Brand Accelerator, the proprietary brand diagnostic tool that assesses current brand perceptions and future potential of 700+ brands.