Clever Reputation Management can pay regional dividends, says Prof Mike Brown
Over 20 years Mike Brown, Professor of Corporate Reputation and Strategy at Birmingham City Business School, has been surveying senior business executives to assess how much they esteem their peers.
His survey, 'Britain's Most Admired Companies', is an assessment of executives' perceptions of 'corporate reputation'.
Speaking recently at the Birmingham Made Me Design EXPO Mike Brown commented on how reputation is now one of the key intangibles which our business executives are managing to a greater extent than ever.
In most instances, he noted, around 75% of companies value is being derived from intangibles.
Intangibles have been ranked by businesses in order of importance as follows - company reputation, product and brand reputation, employee know-how, culture, perceptions of quality, databases and company systems, contracts, IPR, goodwill and networks.
In Mike's survey he asks senior company executives to rate other peer companies according to quality of management, financial soundness, quality of goods and services, ability to attract talent, efficient use of corporate assets, value of long term investment, quality of marketing, capacity to innovate, community and environmental responsibility.
Through their responses to these criteria Mike is able to come up with an overall score for a company's total reputation.
Having done this for 20 years there is a lot of data not only on the companies involved, their reputations together with that of their sectors; it's even possible to draw some conclusions about the UK regions from the data.
Most companies are headquartered in London and within the survey 62 are based in the capital; 10 are based in Scotland, 14 in the East Midlands and 18 in the West Midlands.
Mike noted that it was striking how West Midlands businesses had consistently been the poorest performing companies in the group on the basis of peer perception of their reputation.
"I can't help wondering if this is because the reputation of the region itself is not helping the businesses based here," said Prof Brown. "That as a result they are not being perceived in the best possible light for their corporate reputations to thrive and prosper.
"Whilst I have not assessed this as part of the survey I also wondered if it was based on the strong association of the region's image with manufacturing which simply hasn't been rated for the contribution it makes - in terms of job and wealth creation, balance of payments and driving innovation and research and development."
On this basis it seems the region could look to seriously benefit by improving perceptions and understanding of what we are doing really well and how we are contributing to the UK's well-being as a whole.
Idea Birmingham, the think tank behind the Birmingham Made Me Design EXPO, now aims to promote this theme further through business research it is conducting with the intention of launching these results at the Tory Party Conference being held in Birmingham this October.