Your reputation matters. I'm not sure how else to say it.
That's as true for an individual as it is for a company or a brand. Do you have a reputation for taking care of your customers? Or do you have a reputation for doing whatever you can get away with?
The answer to those questions comes not from what you say, but is built on a series of interactions over time that either build trust and credibility or don't. In that sense, your reputation is directly linked to your brand.
Your brand, by the way, isn't your product, or your logo, or your CEO. Your brand isn't even the things you say about your company with fancy marketing. Your brand is the way people feel about your business. In that sense, it's all of those things, because each plays a role in the experience people have with you and your company, and that experience determines how they feel.
Ultimately, though, the thing that influences your brand the most is your reputation.
Apple, for example, was named the World's Most Admired Company for the 14th year in a row. It isn't hard to imagine why. The company produces some of the most beloved products, from the iPhone to the Mac. It delivers consistent returns for its investors. And it's intentional about creating the best experience possible for its users. It also isn't afraid to take a stand for the things it values.
Facebook, on the other hand, isn't even on the list. Of the 332 companies listed, the social media giant isn't one of them. That's really quite striking for a company that has so much influence over how we consume information and how we connect with people.
In fact, Facebook used to be on the list. Of course, a lot has happened since last January. Facebook has had its hands full of issues that damage its reputation. There's the criticism it faces over extremist and misleading content on its platform.
Then there's the algorithm designed to serve up an endless stream of content so that users spend more time on Facebook because that allows it to collect more data and monetize it by showing more ads. That has caused increased scrutiny over the way it monetizes the personal information of its users. It's even facing an antitrust lawsuit over the way it either acquired or punished its perceived competition.
Finally, there's the battle it picked with--of all companies--Apple, over the iPhone maker's move to give users a choice over whether they want to be tracked. All of it means that Facebook doesn't find itself in a very admirable position.
There's a lesson there--Apple has a reputation for protecting the privacy of its users, and for standing up for that as a core value of the company. Giving users a choice over whether they want to be tracked is in alignment with that value.
More time on Facebook equals more ads shown to a given user, which equals more money for Facebook. Fighting against something that would hurt its business because users might opt out reinforces that reputation.
It doesn't, by the way, mean that Apple--or any company--does everything right. Even the most admired companies still do things that a very large number of people disagree with. Sometimes it's because they make a product that flops. Sometimes it's because you disagree with something they do.
Your reputation, however, is the net sum of the interactions a given customer has with your brand. It's based on the experience you deliver over a long period of time. Every one of those experiences, whether positive or negative, solidify your reputation in the minds of your customers. It takes a long time to build a positive reputation.
The thing is, it doesn't take much at all to damage your reputation. Just ask Facebook.