Your brand messaging is securely grounded in your values, and not a single piece of communications leaves your realm without a careful cultivation of that message. Your brand image rests on years of cultivation, and you’re proud of your place in your industry.
What if it all Crashed Down? It might be a well-meaning employee who takes a misguided stand on a controversial issue, a message that hits the public completely different than you’d anticipated or a disgruntled customer who’s taking their complaints to social media. Whether you actually made a mistake or you’re simply on the wrong side of a misunderstanding, these events can happen despite the best of intentions.
When your brand image hits a crisis, there are a few steps you can take to limit the damage and get your messaging back on track:
Respond Quickly: You may be tempted to hope it will blow over, but you don’t have the luxury of waiting to see if it will. You need to regain some power over the messages being communicated about your brand, so take this opportunity to apologize. Keep in mind that if you’re apologizing solely to rescue your brand image, don’t be surprised that your audience will see right through it. Make sure your apology is sincere, with a true intent to correct the problem.
There are some situations where an apology is just the beginning, and there’s a need to create a plan to make things right. If this plan is a multi-step process that requires some time, be sure to keep audiences in the loop. You may feel as if your brand image can’t be rescued, but most people empathize with a good plan gone wrong and will be ready to see how you make efforts to correct a problem.
Avoid a Public Fight: Even if you’re being maligned on social media in ways that are completely unfair, don’t engage in a Facebook fight. It feels good to win an argument, point by point, on a public forum, but it won’t help your reputation. Even if your argument is steeped in truth and based on facts, the lasting image is still one of a corporate bully against one little customer. Don’t engage.
Approach a Solution as a Team: When everyone is pointing fingers at your company, it can be hard not to repeat the problem in-house. Even if you know exactly who’s at fault, make every effort to approach a brand image rescue as a united team. Otherwise, you’ll not only have a damaged public reputation but also a company culture where everyone works in fear of being held up as an example if they make a mistake.
Talk with your team about the plan, and make sure to emphasize again the importance of brand messaging that’s based on your company values. This is a particularly bad time for a rogue social media manager or a sales rep who gives the “real” inside scoop to customers on a sales call.
If your brand image is in a free fall, don’t despair. These are just the kinds of situations that set the stage for an amazing comeback. Let’s get started on yours!