How to prevent your brand from disrepute

A good brand/company reputation is very significant because it helps distinguish a brand from its competitors and also plays a major role in the placement of the brand to its customers. It is a standard term in Staff Handbooks that an employee can be dismissed for gross misconduct if it is decided that they have carried out an action likely to bring the organization into disrepute.

Looking at this topic in general, one will also need to understand the difference between Corporate governance and Corporate Social responsibility/investment (CSR). Is Corporate Governance the same as Corporate Social Responsibility/investment (CSR/I)?

Corporate social responsibility (CSR) is a type of international private business self-regulation that aims to contribute to societal goals of a philanthropic, activist, or charitable nature by engaging in or supporting volunteering or ethically-oriented practices. While once it was possible to describe CSR as an internal organizational policy that time has passed as various international laws have been developed and various organizations have used their authority to push it beyond individual or even industry-wide initiatives. While it has been considered a form of corporate self-regulation for some time, over the last decade, it has moved considerably from voluntary decisions at the level of individual organizations to mandatory schemes at regional, national and international levels (Wikipedia).

In simple terms, it is a way in which an organization demonstrates through Social Responsibility/investment, involvement in the life of the community where they operate. This might involve engaging in activities to improve, contribute towards or challenge societal social, educationally, environmental or improving economic well being of the people in areas of their operation.

Corporate Governance (CG) or simply good business reputation is the system by which companies/organizations are directed and controlled. It helps distinguish a company from its competitors and could even be a deciding factor for attracting Customers and other Ethical businesses. The Board of Directors are responsible for overall governance.

The Shareholders role in governance is to appoint the directors and satisfy themselves that appropriate governance structure is in place.

4P’S of Corporate governance: There are 4 P’s of Corporate governance: People, Purpose, Process and Performance. The four have important roles in the use of company resources.

The basic principles of CG are Fairness, Accountability, Responsibility, and Transparency, where properly channeled the company will usually outperform others and will be able to attract investors and people of Good will.

Therefore CG is necessary to enable a company operate efficiently, access capital, mitigate risk, while safeguarding shareholders/owners funds and Reputation.

There are differences between the two even though they seem interwoven. One gives the Company Goodwill, Acceptance in the local community and societal improvement while the other is the Organizational structure and process.

Corporate Governance is therefore what most employees or staff should understand.

How the action of a member of staff might impact on the Reputation of the Organizations, its Ethics and the continued employment of the staff in question.

Here are therefore some of the actions that an employee/staff can do to put their company into Disrepute.

An employee can bring their employer  into Disrepute  through any Action of theirs  that could bring the Employer negative publicity, embarrassment  that impact on the name of the employer, undermine the public value, Ethics through linkage of the employee/staff to the employer/ company.

Therefore an employee/staff should be very careful in any action that could result in investigation, being charged or convicted for any Criminal offence that generates publicity and therefore links the staff to the company.

The most common areas of concern are:

  • Misuse of Social Media
  • Use of Company Logo, Name or Assets while committing an offence, this links the company to the deed.
  • Possession or conviction for an illegal Act ( illegal drugs, firearms etc.) .
  • Damage to Brand and Reputation (Wearing the company’s uniform or emblem and getting physically involved in a fight).
  • Any Action deemed inappropriate at the workplace
  • Conviction for any Criminal offence.
  • Non-disclosure of criminal conviction (would you want as your accountant, someone previously convicted of financial fraud etc).
  • In some organizations, it is not acceptable for senior members of staff to have social/ personal relationships with staff in their company. Fall out brings embarrassment to the
  1. Do what your brand has promised: if you want to be respected and regarded by your customers then you must do what you have said your brand offers. Keep to your unique selling point, so if you say you will always provide free delivery services, always provide your customers with free delivery. If you don’t keep to your words and they find out, customers will view your brand as untrustworthy and will head elsewhere.
  2. Give back to your community: by supporting your community, it can help create a good reputation for your brand. You should learn to give something back at local levels to support worthy causes, which will allow people to place further trust in your business. People get moved when they see companies supporting people, you can decide to sponsor famers, students, healthcare etc in the community you find yourself, this will help to personify your brand. Always promote your community work in the media, social media and even on your brand website. If you invest in your community, the community will invest in your brand.
  3. Employ staff that will represent your brand well: having a good remark from a customer will encourage people to spread the word and tell the story of your brand. If you must have good brand advocacy, you must be able to employ, engage and retain the best employees to assist your customers with a sale, problem, or query. A good customer experience will help build your brand reputation and it will always precede you.
  4. Treat Your Customers well: Every business encounters an angry customer now and then. Customers may scream at a customer service rep, write a negative review online, or they berate a salesperson in a store, it is almost like a norm! Yet, it is important every employee responds to customer frustration in a polite, professional, and calm manner – therefore, representing the brand well. Not only will this approach help you maintain the loyalty of an angry customer, but it will also prove to those prospects within earshot of the outburst that you are a helpful, rational, and caring brand, which will improve your reputation and increase your sales over time.
  5. Don’t Be Afraid to Defend Yourself: there may be a time when your brand may fall into crisis based on what a customer feels about our brand which may not even be true or the half truth. Contrary to conventional belief, the customer is not always right! For example, a dissatisfied customer may become hostile, and turn to social media or the press to air their grievances. If this happens, you have every right to defend your brand to maintain your good standing in the industry. These days it’s not uncommon to encounter bad actors who will intentionally slander your good name. So, always be prepared and have drawn out plans in case such a crisis occurs in future. Your brand reputation matters a great deal.

Finally, it should go without saying that your brand reputation is your responsibility. This means you have to be in the market every day listening to your customers, measuring their quality of engagement with your brand and responding to issues with ruthless consistency. If you can offer other helpful tips to maintaining and enhancing brand reputation before, during and after a crisis, please feel free to share your informative advice and brand stories by posting a comment below.

It is therefore a land mine and areas that staff and company should clarify and understand from the beginning as it is an open ended area.

Bringing one’s company/employer into disrepute is something that the human resources (HR) should take very seriously to avoid reputational damage to the company, loss of Goodwill and in some cases affect the Company’s Share price in cases of listed companies.

While for staff that transgress, it could be loss of employment or even Career limiting in terms of promotions and opportunity in a closed unit industry.


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