Companies spend years developing brand recognition, brand loyalty and trust with their customers and communities. This includes thousands of man hours, goodwill and efforts to be socially responsible. You protect your brand at all costs, you’ve done your smart branding and are in the middle of a long-term branding strategy.
You protect you brand and business reputation as if they were Fort Knox and Air Force One.
Then, one day, without warning… It all comes crashing down. #BusinessFail
Murphy’s Law Is Real
Maybe you missed an important deadline… Or an employee’s actions—deliberate or unintentional—now jeopardize your company’s reputation and future. Before you know it, you’re featured on the local news and trending on Twitter. Inevitably, people are posting negative reviews on Yelp and Facebook, further demonizing the company. You are on the phone with your public relations person doing damage control. Yet, all you can think about are the hundreds of comments and posts happening in real time on social media sites. You imagine people sitting at their computers furiously trying to destroy your company.
Damage Control First
It is at this point, immediately after a disaster, when critical decisions need to be made. The course of action you take may prove even more destructive… or it can set your company up to rebound for a strong future. First things first. You must stop the bleeding… Address the mistake and apologize to your customers.
Now that you’ve stopped further damages… How do you salvage your brand and your company’s reputation in the community? Rebranding after a crisis is one way to do it.
Smart Rebranding After A Crisis
Rebranding after a crisis is not a quick and easy stopgap measure. A smart rebranding strategy requires more than simply changing your company’s name and logo. Consumers are savvy… and the internet lasts forever. Changing your name and acting as if it’s business as usual will probably not satisfy your community. People sometimes have long-term memories that are proportional to the crisis. Boeing Corporation has a long way to go before the public and business communities trust the 737 Max planes.
After owning up to the mistake, smart rebranding should focus on the real changes your company is making to address the problem. The changes are neither cookie-cutter nor universal. Changes should be strategically calculated to achieve desired outcomes. For example, the type of disaster or crisis, i.e. a quality control issue or employee negligence, will determine the appropriate rebranding strategy.
A successful rebranding after a crisis will communicate—and demonstrate—to your customers that your company has indeed made changes for the better. It will also express, with clarity, your company’s new and improved vision.
Brand Ambassadors Are Critical
In today’s culture, bad news travels fast. The 1/9/90 rule works at the speed of light in the Twitter and social media worlds. This means that 1% create content, such as posting a review. 9% of people will interact, such a sharing or commenting. The other 90% are quiet observers. Who’s on your side—or against you—in that 1%?
Even more, the public loves a good anniversary story. We hear about them every year… The anniversary of a sports upset, a crime or a catastrophic natural disaster. The same is true in business. If you simply apologize, without rebranding and changing your name and logo, your company may forever be associated as the company that did XYZ thing.
By changing your name and logo, you have an opportunity to leave your history behind—to a certain extent. But you have to remain authentic to the new business culture you create. Surround your company with people who are committed to the mission and make them your ambassadors. Just as the 1/9/90 rule works in spreading bad news, it can be used for rebranding awareness.
Everyone Likes A Comeback Story
We Americans love a comeback story. The underdog. Rising from the ashes. Facing a crisis does not have to be the end of your company or reputation. Short-term failure can be the basis for long-term growth. It is at these moments that taking a step back and conducting a critical review of your company (and assets) might be the best course of action.
Today’s market is rapidly evolving in many different directions. The consumer base has distinct populations such as Baby Boomers, Gen Xers and Millennials… each of which has different objectives, expectations, needs and desires.
A crisis situation can turn into an opportunity with critical thinking, planning and a rebranding strategy tailored to your company’s goals and future expectations. It is not the end, but an opportunity for a new beginning. Carpe diem!
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