Reputation is the New Marketing Currency for FIs

The growth and convergence of the Internet, social media, and mobile technologies have created a disruptive shift in how businesses and their customers interact. Social media and other online connective technologies provide customers and prospects with an instantaneous, information rich platform for researching, discussing and buying everything from books to buildings.

This ability to access and share information has greatly increased pricing, product and corporate transparency, shifting market power from producers to consumers. It has also reduced the effectiveness of many of the traditional outbound marketing, communications and sales methods used by financial institutions.

The recent post, Social Media Statistics: By-the-Numbers, May 2011, illustrates the size, scope and growing role of social media. Examples of some of key statistics included in the article are:

• 800,000,000 recommendations (aka ‘stumbles’) are made each month on news discovery service StumbleUpon

• 132,500,000 people in the US will log in to Facebook regularly this year; by 2013 that number will increase to 152.1 million

• 6 years of video is uploaded to YouTube every day

This massive increase in information, connectivity and transparency results in a greater role for corporate reputation in the purchase decision making process for both consumers and businesses. Because of this, financial institutions will need to build and manage their social reputations by actively participating in social media, delivering on commitments, building strong business relationships and providing value to their customers.

For more on this topic, please see the Intuit 2020 Report – The Future of Financial Services.


About Steve King:  Steve is a Partner at Emergent Research. His current research and consulting is focused on economic decentralization, the growth of small business and the future of work and workplaces. Steve has extensive consulting, marketing and general management experience with both large and small companies.  Steve is a senior fellow and board member at the Society For New Communications Research, a research affiliate at the Future of Work and an advisory board member at Pond Ventures.

About Carolyn Ockels:  Carolyn is the Managing Partner at Emergent Research.  Her current research and consulting is focused on economic decentralization, the growth of small business and Gen Y.  Carolyn has extensive consulting experience, and prior to Emergent Research managed Cambridge Energy Research’s Asian energy consulting business, led market research in Japan for RCM Capital Managment, and held a variety of domestic and international consulting positions with the economic forecasting and planning consulting firm Data Resources, Inc.


  1. Steve King says:

    Jeffry: Good question, and something we should have covered in more detail in our post.

    We think brand and reputation are linked and interrelated, but different. To us, brand conveys the expectations of what the firm will deliver. It is the company’s way of telling customers about itself, its products and how the company wants to be perceived by its customers and stakeholders. For example, WalMart’s brand is built around every day low prices.

    Reputation focuses on the credibility and respect a company has with its stakeholders – customers, employees, investors etc. This is based on stakeholder views of company – how it performs, how it treats customers, how well it delivers on brand promises, etc.

    Going back to WalMart, a few years ago the company found that while its brand was strong it was developing reputation problems on a number of fronts. They moved to fix this by changing employment practices, adopting sustainability, etc. Their reputation has since improved.

    In terms of FIs, we think many have strong brands but weaker reputations. The weaker reputations are due to customer service issues, fees, the banking crisis, TARP, etc.

    Going forward we think social media, online social networks and increases in corporate transparency will make reputations even more important than today.

    Our favorite article on this topic is – Don’t Confuse Reputation With Brand – from MIT Sloan Management Review. It is at:


  2. Aren’t “reputation” and “brand” were the same thing?

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