How will you pick up the pieces once your brand’s foundation has been shaken by a brand crisis?

In this article based on her new book, Brand Turnaround, international branding/marketing expert Karen Post shows how leaders have spearheaded campaigns to turn their brands around after crisis.

 

“A legal issue, natural disaster, sudden market shift or troubled product—these things can test any brand’s stamina. But with careful navigation and rethinking, you can bounce back.

I’ve seen it time and time again. A brand faces a big blunder, their world starts crumbling and it seems like there is no way out. Moving forward after a crisis is no easy task, but with the right plan and timely actions, you can regain your brand power even through the toughest situations.

In my recent book, Brand Turnaround , I reveal how more than 75 brands faced serious troubles, but came back strong. As I tell each brand’s story, I identify what I call Game Changers—seven key concepts that transform a brand from bad to back on top. One of these Game Changers is to keep improving.

 

Improvement takes a commitment to change and the ability to rethink current ways. Your list can include:

·      Recycling an old product.
·      Retooling processes and policies.
·      Concentrating on doing less, but doing it better.
·      Reestablishing your brand identity.
·      Reinventing the customer experience.
·      Simplify things.
·      Bringing in fresh minds.
·      Breaking a tradition.
·      Giving your brand a visual makeover.
·      Aligning with other notable brands in your industry to co-brand.
·      Introducing sustainability as a new value.

 

In Brand Turnaround , I cover the details of how this was accomplished in business, destination, nonprofit and personal brands—from major corporations like the Ford Motor Co. to McDonald’s, organizations that have bounced back have relied on continuous improvements to recharge their brands.

Imagine, for instance, you’re a manufacturer of children’s toys and one of your brands is suddenly thrown into the media spotlight due to a foreign vendor’s quality controls and questionable safety practices. Your once number one, popular product is now under attack by parents and consumer groups and is referred in the news to as “the deadly and dangerous” game that can seriously hurt kids.

So you stop the bleeding, pull the product off the shelves and investigate what went wrong. Even though that was just one of many products you sell, the bad press has put a dark cloud over your reputation and your brand, and sales of everything plummet.

What now? Get to the root of that situation and fix the problem. Take responsibility and keep your customers and the public informed of your progress. If it makes sense once you’ve corrected the matter, reintroduce the product as retooled and improved.

Don’t stop there. Go through the bullet points listed above and see what else you can do to infuse improvement both in the one product brand in question and your entire organizational brand, so the public has a renewed love and respect for all your brands.

 

To get your innovative juices flowing, here are 10 strategic questions to get you started:

Since the brand-shaking event occurred
1. How has your market evolved?
2. What are your customers’ new values: the environment, safety, privacy, something else?
3. What are their new needs, desires and sweet spots?
4. What can be dropped from your current brand so that other aspects can stand out better?
5. Have you set up the right conversation and collaboration channels to listen to new ideas from customers, employees and vendors?
6. Is the tradition in your brand nostalgic and meaningful or really just tired and out of date?
7. Are there opportunities for niche market segmentation brand extensions?

Once you spot improvement platforms and build out an execution framework, ask yourself:

8. How will I package and deliver this?
9. How can I make it even more distinct?
10. How can I best take this message to the market?

 

Your next step is to make sure your online and offline brand presences are aligned with your improvements. For online, it’s crucial to be a participant and good listener in social media. Create the needed Facebook pages, Twitter accounts, blogs and videos to accompany your freshly improved products and brands. Show the world that your brand is stronger and better than before. For offline, consider both traditional and alternative media. These tactics can include everything from pop-up retail, to time-sensitive grassroots promotions with your channel partners.

Reinvention often means organizational change and sacrificing sacred lambs, and with this will come criticism. Don’t hide from critics; gain from them. Not all will be knowledgeable or credible but you can pay attention to them, learn from their noise and extract opportunities their criticism implies to move your brand forward.

Meaningful rethinking, recycling and reinventing take extensive effort on your part. Remember to proceed with some level of caution but not to fear failure, to focus on scalable improvements, to be willing to kill traditions and to be aware that visibility of improvements is just as important as the improvement itself.

With the right level of adjusting and innovating, you’ll have your brand back in no time.”

This article is based on content from Karen Post’s latest book, Brand Turnaround.