In the last post in our “On Brand” series, we looked at corporate brand – what it is, why it is important, and who does it well. However, it’s important to understand that “brand” is not always synonymous with “reputation.”

A company’s brand is the combination of who it is and what is stands for as an entity. A brand is shown through the type and quality of product the company delivers, and is reflected in its customer service, corporate culture, and visual identity. A well-executed brand is long-lasting and successfully differentiates one business from one another. It is inward-looking and defines how a company wants to be known.

Corporate reputation, on the other hand, can vary. Reputation can change day-to-day or year-to-year, and can be determined by a major event or crisis. Reputation from a negative event can have staying power if it is not handled properly, but customers may forget if the brand handles it well. Reputation tends to be more intellectual than a company’s brand; a brand is something we feel with our heart, whereas reputation is something we assess with our brain.

A company’s reputation can also vary by the perceptions of different audiences. People of different ages, backgrounds and cultures may have different expectations, meaning that every decision a company makes may not be relevant to every single audience. However, some companies manage to successfully reach a range of audiences. Disney, for example, has consistently been ranked as one of the most reputable companies, and holds this spot among a variety of audiences. Their brand is known for being imaginative and innovative, appealing to children and adults alike, and creating an air of nostalgia. Disney’s reputation, on the other hand, has received attention for its commitment to social responsibility—something that is important to other business leaders and potential employees. Their position on nutrition – given that they serve food at their parks – aims to “encourage kid-appropriate portions and limit sodium, sugar, and saturated fat.” From a policy perspective, Disney supports policies that are in line with their business and that policymakers care about.

By taking the time to build a strong, positive reputation among a variety of audiences, Disney has been able to weather different crises that have come its way over time. From leadership shakeups to, most recently, people boycotting the Beauty and the Beast remake, Disney has managed a reputation that people trust. As such, people keep coming back to the brand.

It is important to realize that reputation is not something that should be saved just in times of crisis – it is something that companies – and individuals – should proactively work on every day. While reputation can take a long time to build, it is a critical element for every company and individual to consider no matter what business decision is being made. A good reputation helps build loyalty, creates a stronger brand, and can help a company better maneuver any crisis situation.