They all damaged the integrity of their brands, intentionally or not, with actions that could have been prevented – or at least planned for.
Jonathan Copulsky of Deloitte presented his panel called Brand Resilience: Managing Risk and Recovery in a High Speed World at Social Media Masters in Atlanta on Friday to help spread the awareness of brand resilience. “If you’re not thinking about this, you’re fooling yourself. Not having a brand defense is as silly as not having a smoke detector in your home.”
Copulsky cited the free and exponentially frequent passing of information on all media forms as one of the major reasons for having a plan in advance. There’s nothing the media loves more than a juicy bite of brand mishap – it reveals the all too hidden underbelly of the beast that is supposed to have an impenetrable shell.
“Some of the worst cases of sabotage come from well-intentioned people. Sabotage is more than deliberate efforts to hurt the brand,” a statement that could ring true in any situation. How many times has “I was just trying to help” been the only supplied explanation in the case of a mistake? It happens more than you’d think, where employees might not “know any better” or “thought it was funny.” Unfortunately the blunt of the force falls on the employer, whose job it was in the first place to educate and prevent misunderstanding within their forces.
Which, speaking of forces, brings me to Copulsky’s next point: the value of reference in the US Army’s Counterinsurgency Field Manual. A little surprised, I could see the shift in the audience’s attention when mentioning this rather radical piece of literature. The US Army and the advertising industry have their differences, but this manual shows the framework for how they can be the same.
“The speed and frequency of brand assaults is getting faster and faster,” warns Copulsky, and in times like these where “assaults to the brand can come from unpredictable sources,” it brings to light the similarities of how the Army and advertising should function in these advanced times of communication. From a real-time perspective, the manual outlines how “speed kills” and “scale doesn’t matter” (as much), but the “weapons” in brand assaults are more diverse and less conventional.
Here are Copulsky’s Seven Steps for Managing Brand Risk and Recovery:
- Assess Brand Risks: The Enemy within + Beyond your borders
- Galvanize your brand troops
- Deploy your Brand Risk Early Warning Systems
- Repel the Attacks on your brand
- Learn and Adapt Your Brand Defenses
- Measure and Track brand resilience
- Generate Popular Support for your Brand Resilience Campaign
Every situation is different, as is every brand, but these seven steps offer a good place to start when planning your brand defense system. It’s important to remember to follow through completely with the last step, and to continue to monitor it months after the incident occurred.
“Most of the ways people form brand impressions are not because of advertisements, it’s through the various forms of your company.” Those “various forms” being online presence, customer service, PR, and brand ambassadors within the community. It’s no secret that word-of-mouth will always trump advertising, so making sure to cover your bases with your most loyal fans should always be a priority in your damage control.
Truthfully, I believe, as does Copulsky, that most brand damage can be prevented by preparation from within. "Eighty percent of people aren’t passionate about what they do. If you’re not passionate about the job, how can you be passionate about the brand? You want fertile ambassadors, which is on the employer to seek out and train." Someone in the audience spoke up asking about jobs taken out of necessity, that “everyone has mouths to feed” and that more often than not a job is taken out of that fact alone. Copulsky replied, “Someone might take a job out of necessity, but that doesn’t mean the employer can’t make the experience positive.”
Wise words from a wise master.