Smart branding is more than simply having a memorable logo, trademark or tagline. A complete and mature brand is also associated with trustworthiness, quality, dedication, reliability, creativity, thinking outside the box, work ethic and loyalty. It may take years to develop a solid brand identity—only to have it be destroyed by one single act or a series of unfortunate incidents. All your time, effort and resources gone… Poof… Kaput. The disaster could have started with a simple misunderstanding, an unsatisfied customer or a disgruntled employee. Now you’re trending on Twitter. For all the wrong reasons.
Your well-earned smart brand would now be associated with deceit and negativity… And it will take a considerable amount of effort and resources to recover. In some cases, recovery may not be possible… unless you have six million dollars. We have the technology!
Instead of trying to recover from a brand disaster, try an ounce of prevention. Protect your brand at all costs.
But you can’t know how to protect your brand if you don’t know the circumstances that may destroy it. There are several ways a brand can be devalued, tarnished and diluted right before your eyes. Below we discuss some of the more common ways and offer some solutions for protection.
How Not To Lose Your Brand Identity
This happens when your business no longer follows its original brand strategy. Instead of serving baby boomers, you now want to reach out to millennials. Or maybe you’re offering new and unique services. If you are not what your brand says you are, your brand’s value is decreasing every day. Not to mention, you are not being very authentic with your customers.
Solution: A periodic review of your brand identity is critical. Companies change. Goals change… And your brand will change. Rebranding is something all experienced companies do from time to time. Some have done it several times over.
Negative Customer Reviews
Reviews on Facebook, Yelp and other platforms can do a lot of damage in a little amount of time. Many a company has “gone to bed” only to wake up the next morning and find that they are trending on Twitter—and not in a good way.
Solution: Monitor. Monitor. Monitor. The best protection for brand is to monitor all your social media sites on a regular basis. Mistakes will sometimes be made, but you have to check the sites to find the negative reviews. Also, setting up a Google Alert for your company’s name can help notify you when your company is mentioned. When confronted with a negative review, a quick, thoughtful and strategic response is the best action. Sometimes reviews can be removed by the host if they are false or contain sensitive business or employee information.
Negative Employee Reviews
Disgruntled employees will often leave a negative review on sites such as Glassdoor or Yelp. Similar to customer reviews, these can tarnish a brand’s reputation.
Solution: Your employees are also your brand ambassadors, so treating them with the same respect you give customers would be ideal. However, consulting with an employment attorney would be the best course of action when confronted with a negative employee review. There may be implications of privacy, confidentiality and trade secrets. Also, many companies have confidentiality agreements, which may come into play under these circumstances.
A recent article about the fall of the popular beverage LaCroix is the perfect example of how a lawsuit can negatively affect a brand, customers and sales. In LaCroix’s case, they held themselves out as an “all-natural” product to consumers… The lawsuit contends that they are not “all-natural” because they use synthetic substances, causing loyal consumers to question their choices.
Solution. Try to keep the litigation to a minimum.
Competitors And New Market Entrants
Competitors can adversely affect your brand’s reputation. Both established competitors and new market entrants often hint at being better or more efficient… or having newer technology. This could indirectly imply that the competition is old, inefficient and expensive. Sometimes, competitors will go for the jugular. Remember the shaving wars between Bic and Gillette about who shaves closest? Or Wendy’s Twitter battle with McDonald’s, which may have forced McDonald’s to start serving freshly made Quarter Pounders? And how about the most recent battle of Bud Light and the corn syrup in Coors and Miller?
Solution: Knowing who your competitors are and what they are doing is the first step. Monitor your own social media… and pay attention to how others are marketing, branding or rebranding themselves. This can give you a heads up before your brand loses its value. You don’t have to be a certified Kingsman, but every company should know what’s happening with their competitors. Dilly, dilly.
Yes, companies will try to copy business methods, logos, trademarks and patents. Nothing is worse than having to cease all operations and start over from scratch because you didn’t enforce your intellectual property rights… or you infringed upon someone else’s.
Solution: If you have trademarks, copyrights or patents, keep them active and make sure no one else is using or diluting your intellectual property. Performing routine searches for uses of your intellectual property is the first step. From a branding perspective, makings sure that your brand does not infringe upon others’ intellectual property. Always seek the advice of counsel when confronted with intellectual property issues.
Mistakes, Errors And General Mishaps
Maybe you shipped the client’s order to the wrong address. Or maybe you made an accounting error. Mistakes are inevitable. Small mistakes can be fixed quickly and easily. Major mistakes may take a little more strategic energy. Either way, mistakes can harm your smart brand.
Solution: Try limiting mistakes. But when they happen, own up to them. Trustworthiness is a trait of most smart brands. Therefore, address the mistake, apologize and make sure it doesn’t happen again. Your social media accounts may have negative posts about mistakes your company has made. Having a designee who responds to mistakes quickly is key in limiting the negative effects to your brand.
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