You have a lot of decisions to make as you build a brand. That means that occasionally, you might make a poor or uninformed choice. Sometimes, those choices will go unnoticed. Other times, they will rock your brand to the core.
Does this mean you should be fearful of taking risks and moving forward with the building of your brand? Absolutely not. What it does mean is that you would be wise to not only learn from mistakes but to prepare for any negative press your brand may be subjected to as a result of a mistake.
I have seen brands taken down, never to rise again, by a poor decision. I have also seen brands take the opportunity to learn from that mistake, to start a dialogue with their target audience, to use the mistake to humanise their businesses, to demonstrate their sense of humour and to adjust their branding and marketing strategies for future success.
One thing I’m certain of is this: It’s not the nature of the mistake, but the brand’s handling of, and response to, that mistake that will determine the fate of the brand. Stick around. I have paid close attention to how the most resilient brands recover from bad brand decisions, and have compiled a list to help you through even the toughest of times.
Save Face with Targeted Brand Mistake Remediation
As you build your brand, you’re going to make mistakes. There’s no doubt about that. What separates the weak brands from the strong ones is how a mistake is handled...how it is turned around to create good things within the brand, as well as for its ideal customers.
Here are some things I always suggest doing in anticipation of inevitable mistakes, as well as when a mistake is made:
- Create a High Demand Market. If your brand occupies a space in a market where it experiences very little competition, your brand is more likely to be forgiven when it screws up. Take Jeep for example. Their customers deal with high roll-over rates, temperamental soft-top installation, and something called the “Known Death Wobble.” Why, when problems such as these seem to come along with owning a Jeep Wrangler, do people continue to buy them? Because there’s nothing like a Jeep. Not only do they have a unique physical appearance, they bear features unlike any other. When you buy a Wrangler, you’re in a club -- there’s even a customary wave among Wrangler owners. You can work to create this type of protection for your brand, too, by monopolising on your brand’s USP (Unique Selling Proposition) and positioning it so that it’s incomparable to any other brand.
- Work to Build a Spotless Reputation. No brand exists in perfection; however, you can create the perception that your brand “does no wrong.” Keep your word. Deliver more than expected. Build strong personal brand relationships. Meet (and exceed) deadlines. Always demonstrate the corporate values that your ideal customers admire. Do all of this and more, and when you do make a mistake, even a serious one, your customers will feel compelled to forgive. Sure, when you have a great brand reputation, mistakes are often made more public and the repercussions seem more severe. That’s because it’s breaking news -- no one would have expected this from your brand, and the shock factor will be high. However, this can be a stellar opportunity to prove that your reputation was earned honestly...and it will repair itself.
- Know your Ideal Customers, as well as How they will React. You know what’s important to your target clients, and therefore you know what values they admire and what they appreciate about your brand. When you make a mistake, predict how they will react: will they think it’s funny, disrespectful, careless, fautless, understandable or necessary? Mirror the reaction you anticipate with your brand’s statements. Your loyal customers have stayed with your brand because you understand them and their needs. Now, as you move through this scandal, you’re practically expressing their reactions for them, proving that you truly do “get them.” They will appreciate your reaching out to them, your understanding of how they feel, and they will remember that you put their feelings first, rather than making excuses or backpedaling.
- Maintain a Positive Attitude. Even in the face of detrimental mistakes, the most resilient brands remain positive and remember to actively search for the best way to make the most of the attention it will receive. Your brand should do the same. If you expect the mistake to capture the attention of the press or your target audience, be proactive. Craft a statement that acknowledges the mistake, apologizes, lists the repercussions you know your audience will feel, outlines the steps you’re taking to make corrections and lets consumers know what you’re doing to prevent this type of mistake from happening again. Respond in a grateful manner to all comments, be sincere and know that hiding from this mistake or making excuses for it will only worsen the situation.
These are some of the biggies; however, every situation is unique and requires an intimate understanding of your ideal customer’s psyche. Knowing how your mistake will affect them helps you to not only respond correctly, but to make statements and interact with them before scandalous news reaches them first.
Are you building a brand that's strong enough to survive a mistake...and the resulting press? Brands that respond well have better chances of getting back on track, whilst brands that start off strong are even more likely to thrive after detrimental mistakes. Attending a B.R.A.N.D. Building Bootcamp will greatly increase your chances of building a strong, resilient brand. Learn more and enroll here.