“The concept of ‘Reputation’ is often misunderstood, yet I believe there is a simple formula we can use to understand what influences it”, says Paul Hughes.


Often my work is about making the complex clear. I am therefore interested in using what I call ‘Visual Statements’ to help unpack concepts that are commonly used, yet somehow still not understood. ‘Reputation’ is one of these concepts.


A definition

Reputation is how our identity is defined by others. So we do not own our reputation, others do. We can only influence it. The question is how?


A formula

I have created a simple formula that I often use in my work with organizations: Ideas + Ideals = Reputation. By ‘ideas’ I mean creativity, innovation and an organizations’ ability to adapt to change. By ‘ideals’ I mean ethics, values, principles and the consistency in which an organization lives by them. And Reputation is created in the space between.

As can be seen in the accompanying Visual Statement, ideas speak to our heads – in the end they are logical – and ideals speak to our hearts – they are meaningful. And we can view this from the perspective of our organization and also from the perspective of our client: the ideas we present must be logical to others, they touch their heads, and the ideals we project are meaningful to others, they touch their hearts.


Where to focus?

So if reputation is formed in the space between Ideas and Ideals, we can therefore imagine the need to find the right balance between these. In my work, that takes me around the world and exposes me to a variety of different organizations, I unfortunately see too much emphasis placed on ideas and not enough on ideals. Indeed I have seen this taken to extremes where impressive ideas are presented that have little or no foundation in ideals. We have all experienced advertising campaigns that are incredibly creative yet lack any real meaning. The best creative agencies today of course understand this and now offer more mature campaigns that are creative and meaningful. So referring once more to this Visual Statement, we can see where we want to be: in the top right, where great ideas are combined with great ideals.


Now that we can we do anything, what are we going to do?

I am repeatedly impressed by the new innovations that are introduced into the market and yet all too often disappointed by the lack of meaning they bring. So we can asked: now that we can do anything, what are we going to do?

It seems to me, that with more and more power at our fingertips in the form of technology, we have a greater and greater responsibility, and a greater need to answer the question: what is the ideal that my idea is based upon?