Ways to Rehab A Branding Crisis
by Mashum Mollah Entrepreneurship 20 July 2017
A respected brand image is one of the most important assets a business can have. An effective brand strategy can do wonders for a business’ longterm outlook, especially in more competitive markets.
A business’ brand is a promise to its customers, and sets an expectation for its products and services. It also shows that the business is different from others in its industry. It shows where a business wants to go and governs how the outside world perceives it.
Read also: 10 Expert Tips on Online Branding
In the same way, bad branding can really hurt a business. It can send a negative message to the public about what a business stands for.
When this is the case, it is necessary to take action as soon as possible possible to prevent that long-term damage from coming to fruition. Here are the best approaches to help rehabilitate any company’s tarnished branding.
Understand Why You Need To
As good branding can give a business a boost in terms of sales and visibility, it can so easily go the other way. The people leading companies know how important a brand’s reputation can be.
In fact, 45 percent of people have found reasons not to do business with someone due to what they found out about them through online searches.
A brand is a reputation. Companies that have positive reputations are able to hire better employees. They are viewed as more trustworthy, more capable, which often allows them to charge a higher rate for whatever services they provide.
People want to work for these brands to be seen as leaders in their industries.
This idea is evident everywhere a well-branded company is present. Look at company websites, their public leaders, where they work, their company merchandise, their job postings, their stock value, their advertisements. Everywhere a company can be seen, branding is in effect.
According to Harvard Business Review, most companies do an inadequate job of managing their reputation. Businesses often take a reactionary posture, focusing on negative aspects of their reputation that have already become public. There is no oversight on reputation risks, only responses to crises.
As much as companies would like to reduce the risks, there are times when companies can only respond to what is currently happening.
It’s important for companies to understand the importance of brand management, and not just run interference when things blow up. Even if that’s the approach a company took in the past, it needs to change.
If you’re at the point where your brand value is declining, it’s time to acknowledge it and start planning for the future.
This one applies more to those crisis situations.
If things have come to the point where a brand mishap has damaged your company, the only option you might have is to take full responsibility, apologize as is necessary, and start working toward a new image.
In 2017, trying to cover up anything bad about a company is probably a nonstarter. Transparency is very much a part of the business landscape, and it’s become increasingly harder to hide anything from the public.
If the situation is really bad, accepting responsibility may be inhibited by legal considerations, but that’s to be decided on a case-by-case basis.
At any rate, it’s up to a company to get all the bad news out as quickly as possible. Intermittent trickling of information will keep reminding people about the negative things that happened, and keeps that perception hanging around.
Transparency is essential. A company’s efforts to remove a negative stigma have to be communicated publicly in a way that is clear and jargon-free.
This information has to be clear, understandable and free of jargon.
Owenn-Dunn Insurance Service says that there are proper ways a company can go about coming clean. It’s important to hold your company accountable before the public at large has to. This allows a business to take hold of the situation instead of playing defense, which is the morally upright thing to do.
If a company becomes aware of a mistake ahead of consumers, it’s important to do outreach to anyone the error may have affected and resolve issues before it gets out of hand. In these cases, personal correspondence works best.
The “Not Just Me” Response
In a lot of cases, whatever the company did is not unique to the brand in the public eye. The same bad things could happen to any other, similar brand.
If people are able to understand this dynamic, they will be less likely to generalize one faux pas to their perception of the brand as a whole.. Companies need to make information public so that consumers can understand whether one unfortunate event is unique to one brand.
To check, consider if it’s possible that market conditions could have caused the same negative event for a competing brand. Communication here is key. Consumers should be given guidance to lead them to decide whether one brand should take the fall for something that could have happened to anyone.
At worst, a message clearing up what happened can lead consumers on the path to brand forgiveness.
However, it should also be noted that this is quite different from pointing fingers.
Finger-pointing is all too common in the business world, especially during times of crisis. Then again, this is still not a reason for a company to undermine others as this not only counterproductive, but also could put an ugly dent into company links and relationships.
No company wants a reputation for putting blame other businesses. It’s better to take a team approach to problem-solving.
Let the Dust Settle
Bernd Schmitt, executive director of Columbia University’s Center on Global Brand Leadership, says a crisis can become an opportunity for a brand.
“After the scandal, the brand will be noticed by the customer and other constituents, like the media; that could make things much easier,” he suggested. “It’s a huge opportunity for the company to concentrate on the brand right away while it is still the focus of attention and can get a lot of awareness.”
Advertising in the wake of a brand crisis as well as all other communications with the public should seek to remove the connection to scandal, and instead bring on new associations for the outside world to latch onto.
If the situation is handled poorly from the onset, that could open the door to months of negative headlines
“You would want to let the dust settle. Depending on the company, it might be a month or a year. Then you would start the re-branding process,” Schmitt added.
In the end, crises can actually help brands in the long-term, if the original reaction and subsequent rebranding is handled tactfully.