In reputation research, familiarity usually refers to the general level of knowledge that someone has about a certain organisation (Yang 2007 ). Familiarity with an organisation can be acquired through direct experience of the organisation’s product and/or services, hearsay, or media exposure (e.g. Bromley 2000 ). Researchers have generally agreed that a minimum degree of familiarity is necessary for reputation to form. For instance, van Riel ( 1997 : 298) referred to it as a conditio sine qua non for reputation to exist. Other authors have pointed out how ‘[a] fi rm’s reputation is dependent upon a certain degree of exposure’ (Brooks and Highhouse 2006 : 107). Similarly, for new organisations, it is critical to become familiar to the public in order to develop a reputation (Aldrich and Fiol 1994 ; Rindova et al . 2007 ). Indeed, in the absurd case in which nobody knows about an organisation, there would be no reputation.