All companies, big or small, business to business or business to client, global or local have a brand. Sometimes the brand is delivered via the company name, sometimes by a logo or a catch phrase. For all companies however, their brand is the message, the visuals, the good and the bad; all elements combined to create emotion and recognition. Brands may be created by working with a branding agency or by default as a company traverses its customer and vendor relationships and business landscape.
Along the journey of any business, there will be optimal moments full of shining glory and glowing reviews and then not so optimal moments with unhappy customers or vendors, negative press or social media rumor mills gone rampant. Branding agency experts agree that having a crisis management plan that covers and protects your brand is imperative. Not only can it save you money and man hours up front, but over the long term as well. Successfully handling a crisis of any magnitude can often not only redeem a company in the eyes of existing customers, but earn it new ones as well.
Threats to a company’s brand can come from within or without. In today’s social media culture, all too often we hear stories or see videos of employees engaging in questionable activities on company time or dime. These stories can go viral and result in negative press for a mega corporation or severely damage the reputation of a local company. Having social media policies and guidelines that are clearly established and shared with employees is a key step in protecting a company’s brand. But to protect a brand, a company must know exactly what their brand is.
Branding agencies help companies of all sizes establish their brand based on what the company’s philosophy, goals and objectives as well as meeting the wants, needs and preferences of its client base. By knowing its brand, a company can take the key steps towards protecting it, as the adage goes, “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure”. The essential action in any crisis is to immediately address it. When companies are perceived as hiding or ignoring a crisis situation of any type, reputation damage begins.
By immediately addressing the crisis, the company owns the content and the message from the outset. In addition, by presenting the company as one that has little if anything to hide, initial steps are taken to regain the public’s trust. Maintaining and regaining trust are essential to the integrity of a brand and its reputation. Next, ensure that reputation control and brand protection are top priorities, not just while the crisis is unfolding, but for the next few weeks or months following, depending on the magnitude of the event. Be sure to monitor social media sites and have a process in place to handle social media responses to the crisis.
Having the right people in the right place at all times is essential to managing your brand and especially during a time of crisis. It can be an all-consuming task and one solution is to hire a branding agency. By having an ongoing relationship with an agency that understands the brand, a company has a reliable partner and resource for sunny days and cloudy days alike.
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