Reputation as currency: REQ chief Tripp Donnelly on building a successful brand

Tripp Donnelly. (Image: REQ)

“Reputation is the currency that drives a brand’s success in today’s digital world,” says Tripp Donnelly, CEO of REQ, a 10-year-old digital marketing agency that manages brands for clients including Amazon, eBay and the Empire State Building. And while society doesn't yet run on whuffies, protecting brands' reputation, online and in the real world, is critically important.

Whether protecting reputations online or rebranding a company’s identity, digital marketing agency REQ aims to promote, protect and elevate brands.

“We solve problems for clients,” Donnelly told FierceCEO, through services such as search engine optimization, building a website and social media advertisements.

For instance, Donnelly said, “Sometimes clients come to us and say, ‘I believe I'm looking for a website,’ and we take a look at their end goals, and they might actually benefit from a new brand strategy or SEO, and their existing website works well, it just needs a new front-end design.”

In other words, “We try to figure out what a client's desired outcome isin terms of their vision for their brand and their high-level goalsand then we deliver business results and position clients for the future,” Donnelly said.

With digital marketing becoming more popular, brands are increasingly turning to social media platforms to get their message across to their audiences.

And while many agencies have website building capabilities, ensuring that the message reaches the right audience is a complex process. REQ, for instance, has on staff brand and marketing strategists, digital advertisers, data miners, creative coders, search engine optimizers and advocacy experts to provide a full suite of capabilities across all platforms.

The services it offers include:

  • Analytics and Optimization: Data miners keep tabs on client analytics, providing reports and insights that equip REQ to optimize search, content, and design strategy. Continual performance checks and optimization are meant to keep client campaigns ahead of target.
  • Creative Services: REQ’s creative services team is made up of graphic and user interface designers, photographers, video producers, content strategists, and copywriters. Together, they create branding, websites, applications, and media.
  • Search and Reputation Management: “We improve our clients’ visibility on the web and help brands recover from crises that affect their online reputation,” Donnelly said. “Using a combination of SEO, paid search, and online reputation management, this team gets the right content in front of the right users.”
  • Social Media: REQ develops social media strategies and campaigns that build community, Donnelly said. “Our team also works with the latest technologies to develop custom applications, channels, and pages to like, follow and favorite.”

REQ also provides advocacy tools. “Whether companies are looking to sway opinion at a city council meeting or send millions of letters to federal lawmakers, we can get their message across,” Donnelly said. “We build apps and sites, and integrate these properties with our digital advocacy platform.”

Donnelly launched REQ under the name RepEquity in 2008, when Google and other search engines were just beginning to reshape the Internet, and social media was still a fledgling industry. “Despite the uncertainty of this ever-changing industry, I saw the opportunity to position the company in uncharted territory,” he said.

As REQ approaches its 10-year anniversary, clients include Amazon, eBay and the Empire State Building.

The work REQ does is important, Donnelly said, because “Reputation is the currency that drives a brand’s success in today’s digital world and REQ provides digital tools and solutions to promote and protect a brand’s reputation.”

Fast Five with Tripp Donnelly

What are the most important qualities of leadership?

There are many, but on the short list of qualities I admire are team building and boundless thinking.

When did you know you wanted to be a CEO?

For the past 20 years, I’ve been fortunate to either start or be in a leadership role with companies that have had consistent year-over-year growthall in environments that grew from an idea.

What keeps you up at night?

How to continue building, growing, and challenging our teams with new opportunities to keep them continually engaged is a near-constant thought.

What's the key to finding new opportunities for revenue?

We expand our capabilities through deliberate adaptations and acquisitions.

Name an example of when you’ve had to adapt and what you learned?

Adaptation has been important to REQ as we have grown. The services we deliver today weren't even envisioned when the company was launched 10 years ago and we have grown to be a company that solves problems within the digital ecosystem.