Reputation, So what? (Part 1)

Frustrated and jobless, I came up with an idea to checkmate organizations in Nigeria by calling them out for their products or services, if its good we praise and if it’s bad we lash just to give organizations a sense of accountability. So there I was, excited about this new idea and decided to share with a friend and his response gave me chills. He said, “ this is Nigeria and it will not work, most organizations don’t care about their customers because in Nigeria you can get away with almost anything. The people won’t make a noise about it and will forget about it almost immediately”. The bitter truth it was. Countless times as a people we have and still experience the nonchalant attitude of organizations towards ‘us’ like we don’t play an important role.  Organizations need to see the importance of paying attention to what kind of picture the people outside perceive which in all is their reputation.


Going by Topalian’s definition[1], reputation refers to “the expectations, attitudes and feelings that consumers have about the nature and underlying reality of the company as represented by its corporate identity.” In Nigeria, most organizations have failed to see the importance of reputation and its management. Maybe because of the unpopular opinion that “Nigerians memories are short termed and they will always come back to what did them wrong”. This might be true in so many ways but should not stop organizations from doing the right things. Big brands have emerged and some have also fallen. It takes years to build a reputation and only a second to have all you have worked for crumble. Reputation does not occur by chance, it relates to the leadership, management and organizational operations such as quality of products and services, relationships with stakeholders, as well as communication activities and feedback mechanisms. What reputation management does is to help identify organizations’ key indicator and how these can foster the growth of the organization. Organizations need to put up a changed attitude and understand that reputation is EVERYTHING. An example of how bad reputation management led to the downfall of an organization; ‘United Airlines took a huge reputational hit after footage emerged of a passenger being dragged off a plane after refusing to give up his seat on an overbooked flight. The airline’s stock price fell after the incident, and CEO Oscar Munoz was forced to issue not one but two apologies to the public. However, that was only after Munoz initially claimed the passenger was “disruptive and belligerent”’. I’m sure a number of persons can relate to this and have had awful experiences with organizations in Nigeria but only a few have been bold enough to raise dust about it. We have airlines, financial institutions and a host of others who treat customers in such ways but little or nothing is done to checkmate them.


Allow me to digress to job seekers because not only organizations that have a reputation which should be managed. As individuals, we have reputations which should be managed.  We have to be mindful of our interactions, attitude and behaviour. Using social media, the world being a global village all thanks to the internet, we can now brand ourselves and interact with people from around the world, have online presence. The internet never forgets and nothing actually get deleted from the internet. People have been rejected by organizations and some have been fired also because of what was posted on their social media account. Just recently a BBC radio broadcaster, was fired after posting a picture of a baby chimpanzee when tweeting about the birth of the Duke and Duchess of Sussex’s son, Archie Harrison. Also, embassies like UK, US and Australia now require applicant’s social media accounts for background checks before applicant are granted visas. Before you post that tweet, or message as the case may be either on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram, ask yourself if you are proud of it and if whatever organization you dream of joining will be proud to call you their representative. Online reputation matters for individuals and organizations. The internet never forgets! So next time you want to make a post ask yourself/organization this question; is this who I/we want to be seen as?




[1] TOPALIAN, A. (1984), Corporate Identity: Beyond The Visual Overstatements, International Journal Of Advertising, Vol. 25, Pp. 61-4.

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