You don’t have a brand crisis strategy? Because your brand isn’t in crisis?
Most brand crises are unexpected, and because of this…
Every brand needs a brand crisis strategy.
Let’s get right into it, so you can be prepared to make the most out of the worst.
Be Ready for Brand Crisis, with a Comprehensive Strategy
We’ve gotten lots of feedback and conversation through our recent article titled Can Trump Repair His Personal Brand? Some of you believed that it wouldn’t need repair—that his following was so loyal that there would be no damage. Others thought that some serious intervention would be needed in order to spare what was left of his reputation for being an astute businessman. Regardless of the fate of his personal brand, one thing is for sure: A strategy must be in place to minimise the damage.
Another current brand crisis we’re all watching is Samsung’s defective (or should I say dangerous) Galaxy Note 7. This thing is blowing up, causing fires…and its use is not permitted on aeroplane flights.
Why did this happen? There was a rush to release the device ahead of the new iPhone. In the spirit of Planned Obsolescence (the practice of creating products that WILL become outdated or out-of-style in a short amount of time), Samsung attempted to jump on the Apple wagon and “just get it out there.” In the brand’s haste, they created something that would push itself into obsolescence “a bit” sooner than expected.
In an effort to downplay the seriousness of the brand crisis, Samsung announced the recall using these words:
“Temporarily adjusting the production schedule to ensure quality and safety matters” as part of an “exchange program.”
They conveniently forgot to mention, in these statements, that your phone could catch fire and kill you in your sleep.
This is NOT a brand crisis management strategy.
The only thing this vague language accomplishes is proving to consumers that you, the brand, either do not grasp the weight of the situation or you are lying about its seriousness.
Either way, this approach damaged Samsung’s reputation and customer relationships.
Add to that the fact that their washing machines started to blow up, too, and it becomes pretty obvious that Samsung not only failed to mitigate crises with quality control…they failed to have a brand crisis strategy in place.
Well, there’s the Wells Fargo situation, in which bogus accounts were set up by more than 5,000 of the banking institution’s employees to boost their own sales numbers.
Why? Because they had been held to such strict sales standards that they turned to taking advantage of non-native speakers, the elderly and the young in order to meet quotas.
A brand strategist would have seen this coming: the expectations were simply too unreasonable. And when employees don’t believe in the brand, or feel nurtured by the brand, they will not pass that onto customers.
As a result, those 5,000 employees, including the CEO, lost their jobs.
So what’s the difference between Samsung and Wells Fargo? Three are notable:
- Action: Wells Fargo took noted action right away. People were fired. Class action lawsuits are in progress against the brand, and it is presumed to be cooperative. Wells Fargo admitted wrongdoing. Samsung downplayed the situation with watered-down language.
- Reputation: Before all of this happened, Wells Fargo had a high level of brand equity. Its reputation was stellar…and its customers loyal. Samsung, on the other hand, was seen as living in Apple’s shadow, without the customer connection or the IT brilliance and cutting-edge design of Apple. These “facts” aren’t necessarily steeped in truth, but truth doesn’t always matter in branding. What matters are consumer perceptions.
- Timing: Samsung hurried to release the Galaxy Note 7, hoping to get a jump on the iPhone 7. Now that the Samsung devices are being recalled, the number of Android users who will cross over to Apple is likely to be significant. This is a brilliant opportunity for Apple to gain more loyal customers.
As you can see, the brands that are best-prepared to handle a crisis are usually those which survive. So, what does that mean for you? What things should you use to create a brand crisis strategy? Get started with these:
- A media plan for admitting the mistake: Know where your customers are tuning in…and then have a plan in place for getting there and letting them know about the problem (and what’s being done about it) before the media (and the competition) beat you to it. This will avoid confusion and will show that you are an upstanding brand with integrity and the desire the make it right.
- A plan for recalling or repairing: In most cases, you can’t predict the precise crisis that will occur; however, you can have a general plan in-place for taking action. Assign team members to different phases and functions of damage control. Assign a media representative. Assign a direct customer advocate. Ensure that everyone knows how important it is to act quickly, to stick to brand values and language, and to work as a team to prevent any inconsistencies.
- A plan for rebuilding: This is where adherence to your corporate values is of the utmost importance. Your loyal customers will want to see your brand cling to and demonstrate those values, so they know that you’re the same brand they’ve come to know and love—and that you’ve just made a mistake that you’re correcting. Reach out and nurture connections. Find out what you can do to restore faith. The last thing you’ll want to do is shut out your clientele “until you get this fixed.”
- A more active role in the area of your mistake: If you’ve damaged the environment, take action toward going green. If you’ve created a faulty product, create a quality control initiative and involve the public in its progress. If you’ve damaged customer relationships, rebuild them with more personal, beneficial programmes and rewards. Show effort in your brand’s area of weakness, and you’ll forge stronger, longer-lasting consumer relationships.
- Commitment to building a strong brand reputation: This is something that should have been done before the crisis, to increase your brand’s chances of surviving the crisis; however, it’s never too late to get started. Demonstrate your corporate values at all times, stick to your mission and vision statements. Engage your ideal customers. Build the relationships that will come to your brand’s defence in times of crisis.
Is your brand in crisis? Or are you interested in learning to create a strategy that will escort you through future crises, with as little damage to your brand as possible? Then please connect with How to Build a Brand, a community for entrepreneurs and business people who are interested in nurturing fast-growth brands with solid foundations. Find us on Twitter (@brandexperttips), Facebook and at our website.