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3 Tips for Maintaining Brand Integrity During a Crisis

November 25, 2014

In today’s digital age, it has become easier than ever to interact with your customers. The internet has undoubtedly simplified the way we do business, with customers researching companies, products, services and more from all around the world with just a few clicks.

With such a wide array of products and services available at the touch of a button, consumers tend to select products and services that come from brands they can trust. For example, shoppers may choose to shop at Target instead of Walmart, or maybe purchase clothes at American Apparel instead of the imported items elsewhere. Often times, a company’s image and success rely on the ability to communicate their values to potential customers and show that their commitment to these values can be trusted.

Unfortunately, there are a number of issues that can happen that may jeopardize the integrity of your brand and ultimately you company’s image in the eyes of your customers. These crises can range from a handful of bad Yelp reviews, to product recalls, to major data breach that compromises thousands of customers’ information (such as the recent Home Depot data breach).

In times of crisis, it’s more important than ever to maintain the integrity of your brand. Your customers – and potential customers – are looking to see how you’ll manage the problem, and it’s critical that you address the issue in a way that’s 100 percent consistent with your brand. You need to reassure everyone that despite this issue, your company still holds true to its values and, most importantly, your company can be trusted now and in the future.

Here are a few tips that will help you maintain brand integrity when managing a crisis:

1. Be Prepared

It’s important to establish your brand strategy well before any crisis occurs. Remember, your brand is much more than just your logo, color palettes, and font selections. It should also encompass your core messages, such as your organizational values and goals, which you want to constantly communicate to your customers with the goal of establishing trust in your brand. These messages can include a commitment to exceptional customer service, or a promise to use locally sourced products, etc. By mapping out all of these elements beforehand, you’ll have an established tool that can help you and your crisis management team guide the steps you take in dealing with any unforeseen issues that may arise.

 2. Be Honest

The internet can be a phenomenal promotional tool – with its plethora of search engines, sites and apps, companies have a number of platforms for reaching customers. At the same time, it’s important to remember that bad news can spread on the web just as easily – if not more easily – than good news. For example, negative reviews tend to catch potential customers eyes more so than positive reviews. In the case of major recalls and data breaches, this negative publicity can make waves across all media outlets, from Twitter to The Wall Street Journal.As much as the internet can be a huge help in giving your company exposure and increasing your revenue when times are good, don’t forget that truth about any issue is likely to emerge for the public to see. In the event your company faces a crisis, look back on the company values and goals you established in your branding strategy. If you tell customers you value honesty, it’s in your best interest to be honest.

Admitting fault or wrongdoing can be tough, but owning up to the matter quickly will reassure your customers that you’re attentive, quick to respond to an issues, and honest. Also, by addressing the issue with honesty, you’ll also have the opportunity to explain what plans the company has to address the current issue and prevent it from happening again.

3. Be Committed

During a crisis, it’s important to be consistent in your messaging and approach. Remember, you’re trying to keep or re-establish your customers’ trust, and if you start changing your approach mid-crisis, you’re likely to lose their trust altogether.

The customer expects you to fulfill their expectations, which are based on the core messages you have communicated through your brand over time. If an issue occurs, and it results in you not meeting expectations, you need to reassure the customer that the issue is being taken care of, and that they can continue to rely on you to meet their expectations. This is the time to fall back on your established branding strategy – remind your customers why they trusted you in the first place and reassure them that they can continue to do so in the future.

Dealing with a crisis is stressful and the way you manage it could make or break your company. Luckily there are ways to help your company emerge from the issue more quickly and with less damage. By addressing the crisis quickly in a way that’s consistent with your brand, you can help your company rebound faster and reassure your customers that you’re still the company they trusted before the issue.