O I have lost my reputation

An organisation’s reputation is at the core of its brand. No amount of marketing or sales will overcome a poor reputation. There is a commonly quoted Shakespeare passage from Othello that reads:

Reputation is an idle and most false imposition: oft got without merit, and lost without deserving [Othello II 3 1420]

It is a lie uttered by the arch-villain, Iago, who was bent on the destruction of Othello. Reputation is earned and is not lost without a reason. It was a response to the good man, Cassio’s, lament which is very much more closer to the truth:

Reputation, reputation, reputation! O, I have lost my reputation! I have lost the immortal part of myself, and what remains is bestial. [Othello II 3 1416]

An analysis of British politics teaches us an important lesson in managing the reputation of the people in your industry.

Between 1945 and 2000 the average voter turnout in the British elections (which are not compulsory) was 76%. However in 2001 and 2005 the voter turnout plummeted to 59% and 61%.

A report by academics (at the University of Gloucestershire) showed that the negative advertising by both parties about their opponents had not only discouraged young people from voting for the other party but had discouraged them from voting for anybody at all. Both parties were telling the public that politicians were bad and the sum total of the negative advertising (political messaging) was damage the standing of ALL British politicians.

This is important to remember in business too. You have taken a long time to build your reputation and it should not be lost easily (unless, of course, you do something silly to damage it). Your branding, your customer service, and your integrity all build your reputation. But you also take some of it from the industry within which you work.

The message? Be as careful with what you say about your industry as you are of your own business. If you criticise your competitors you damage yourself.

The report for reference is Safeguarding the Future of Democracy (Re)Building Young People’s Trust in Parliamentary Politics Janine Dermody  & Stuart  Hanmerlloyd Journal of Political Marketing Volume 4, 2005 – Issue 2-3