To some ‘reputation’ and ‘brand’ may be one and the same. I consider reputation to be an integral part of a company’s brand. Beyond reputation, brand can include things like popularity (market penetration), identity, uniqueness, etc.¬† Yet reputation probably pays the biggest role in building a valuable brand. Indeed, this past week Forbes released its list of the 75 most reputable companies in the U.S. It is not surprising that there is a strong correlation between Forbes’ list and Millward Brown’s list of the 100 most valuable global brands. In fact, the list of the most valuable brands in North American on Millward Brown’s list has an even more striking correlation.
Of course, we can’t assume causality just from correlation. However, it is true that many of those companies with the best reputation and highest brand value, like Google and Toyota, stress customer satisfaction, reliability, and excellence of their products and services. These are the same values that are the basis of effective user experience design.
What can be learned from this? While business needs are critical, user needs are just as important. When the two don’t align, we must make design decisions that take into account both, not just business decisions. As a concrete example, advertisements are can be detrimental to users’ experience, particularly the invasive ones that pop up and flash. While they may be good for business, they will hurt the user experience and the company’s reputation and probably the value of its brand.