Reputation Management Theory


Reputation is a valuable asset for individuals and organizations, yet it is also fragile and difficult to manage.  Reputation theory seeks to understand how reputation is created and maintained and how it can be damaged or lost. The theory has been used to develop reputation management strategies for individuals and organizations in a variety of industries.  Reputation management aims to protect and enhance reputation through proactive crisis management. While reputation theory is a relatively new field of study, it has already significantly impacted how businesses and individuals think about reputation.

Corporate reputation

Corporate reputation refers to the evaluations made about a corporation by its multiple stakeholders. These stakeholders include:

  • Employees
  • Consumers
  • Shareholders
  • Analysts
  • Media members
  • Others

A company's reputation is often seen as an intangible asset that can be leveraged to create value. The field of corporate reputation is connected to other academic disciplines, such as:

  • Marketing
  • Sociology
  • Psychology

Corporate reputation scholarship has its roots in stakeholder theory and social exchange theory. While public relations scholars conducted much of the early corporate reputation work, in recent years, corporate reputation has also become an important area of research for management scholars.

Reputation theory, as applied to business, explores how and why corporate reputations are built, maintained, and of course – lost.

Development and maintenance of reputation

Theorists have proposed a number of different models to explain how corporate reputations are constructed and maintained over time. These models almost universally suggest that corporate reputations are the result of interactions between organizations and their various stakeholders. Corporate reputation theorists have also proposed a number of methods for measuring corporate reputation. The most common method is to survey stakeholders and ask them to rate the organization on a number of different dimensions. The most well-known method of measurement is the Net Promoter Score (NPS). The NPS asks one simple question:

“On a scale of 1-10, how likely are you to recommend this company to a friend or colleague?”

washing services.

Identity & personality

What do stakeholders think of the company? According to HB Schultz and A. Werner’s Reputation Management e-book, reputation consists of different parts:

  • Identity - What the company says it is
  • Personality - What the company is all about

They say, “The alignment of these factors is vital if we want to build sustain and protect an organization’s reputation.” Everyone involved with the company plays a role in the development of that company’s reputation. How everyone speaks and acts to the community outside of the operations of the company impacts that company’s reputation.

Schultz and Werner also state that “The objective of reputation management is to foster this harmonious relationship between identity and image.”


That is, it's important that what the company says about itself is true, and what the community thinks about it is true, too. In a situation of good reputation, these things should align where perception directly reflects reality.

reality v perception

How does one manage a reputation?

Reputation theory is a key component in the decision-making process that goes into any reputation management campaign. It examines how reputation is created, maintained, and destroyed.  Reputation management theory has applications in a variety of fields, including business, politics, and law.

A large part of what we do as an online reputation management company is helping improve your image by increasing publicity and searchability of the positive things that are associated with you. We also try to bury the things that could be damaging your reputation. 

A few common reputation management tactics include:

  • Keywords and descriptions: The key to successful social media is the ability to communicate the value of your business and brand to your customers. This is often accomplished through attention-grabbing content that showcases your unique value proposition and brand message. We often help clients with creative writing by balancing the key points of their business with real insight into their brand personality.
  • Reviews and ratings: Maintain a pulse on online reviews by carefully monitoring what people are saying about your brand online. It is important to focus on both positive and negative reviews. Build on the positives and respond to the negatives. Always reply politely and professionally, and offer concrete solutions to root problems. 
  • Search engine results: The first page of search engine results is critical in forming first impressions of your brand. Anything negative on this page can cause people to lose trust in your brand. Search engines include Google, Bing, Yahoo, Amazon,  YouTube, and others. 

Ethics and reputation management

A common concern is related to the ethics of the field. Reputation ethics are a part of every project we consider, and we pride ourselves on being an ethical company. If you’re interested in our thoughts about ethics in reputation management, check out our page on the subject.

Search engine optimization (SEO) is a large part of what we do. We push down bad search results and defend positive search results that relate to your company. We also pursue the removal of content that negatively impacts how consumers perceive your brand or you as an individual.

Skim through our comprehensive list of reputation management services for more details.

Reputation management operates by aligning the perception of the community of interested parties with the identity of the individual or company. For an online reputation management company like reputation X, this includes SEO and other tactics that deal with online resources.

If you want to know more about online reputation management, read our blog or contact us directly today.

Reputation theory FAQs

What is reputation?

Reputation is the subjective qualitative belief a person has regarding a brand, person, company, product, or service. It impacts nearly every aspect of your life, such as whether someone will want to make a connection with you, buy something from your business, or refer you to friends.

How is a reputation made?

A reputation is an amalgamation of all the different ways a person has interacted with your brand. It starts with the first contact, which may have been a Google search. Then people may continue to hear about your brand from word-of-mouth, blog posts, yelp reviews, and other channels. People will use all of this information to make an inference about your company.

What does a reputation consist of?

A reputation consists of different parts: identity - what the company says it is and personality - what the company is all about.