Protecting your brand should be a priority for any business, but it’s even more important now. People are scrutinizing corporate behavior more intensely, whether it’s what they do or say. Even the way you treat your employees can have an influence on how your brand is viewed now and in the future. If your brand reputation has already made the headlines for the wrong reasons, know that it’s probably still salvageable, depending on the severity of the situation and your next moves. Let’s take a look at how you can recover your brand’s reputation if it has taken a hit due to COVID.
Assess the Damage Caused
The first thing you have to do is to check the extent of the damage. If there was an outbreak, for instance, you want to assess how many people were infected and if there were any casualties. You then want to assess if you were actually at fault and if the issue is systemic. Doing all of this will be important as your response will need to be proportional.
This also means that changes will need to be made immediately. You have to be ready to accept responsibility if you were partly or solely responsible for the incident, and you will be expected to lead efforts to rectify the situation.
If the issue is systemic, then scapegoating and firing people isn’t going to change much. You have to review and change your protocols in order to prevent the same incident from happening again. You also have to make this clear to your employees and the public. Even if the issue was relatively minor, you need to honestly assess the situation and come up with an authentic and well thought out plan for redemption.
You also need to make sure that you don’t come off as tone-deaf in your marketing. You can’t go on about your flawless record and you can’t afford to go for risky campaigns. You will need to keep things simple for a while. This would also be a good time to start thinking about remodeling your brand message and rebuilding your online brand.
Control the Narrative about Your Brand Online
Being humble doesn’t mean retreating, however. Companies that are vocal are the ones who are better able to repair their reputation. This is the time to show your leadership and your brand’s ability to rise from the crisis. If you do this right, you could end up replacing your negative image with a positive one.
The very first thing you have to do is accept the fault and apologize. The worst thing you can do is act as nothing happened. You also have to make sure that you monitor mentions of your brand online.
Know that anyone can track brand mentions using Google Alerts. While it’s not perfect and you might need to work with an expert, it still allows you to get a pretty good grasp on how many times your brand is mentioned.
With Google alerts, you can get notifications straight to your inbox every time Google detects a new mention of your brand. You can choose to gather information from specific sources, like blogs, news, or discussions, for instance. The only issue with Google Alerts is that it tends to be slow at times and will miss some mentions.
If you have money to spend on tracking mentions, then you could use a more sophisticated tool like Awario. It catches alerts fast and sends them to you in a weekly report that’s very easy to read. The results are also well detailed, and you’ll have access to all sorts of stats about the mentions.
Once you notice where you’re getting the most attention, you will need to come with a plan of action. You will need to get active and use as many channels as you can to get your point across. If you noticed a lot of action on social media, then it’s a great place to start. YouTube, especially ads, can also be a great way to rebuild your brand and even make amends publicly.
Strengthen Your Online Presence
Once you start rebuilding your brand, you also want to take the steps to protect it. This is why you will need to build a strong identity and make sure that all your material supports it. It also has to show that you made an effort concerning the crisis and are consistent with your efforts.
Showing these new core values will give you more credibility and transparency. Also, if someone says something about your brand that is contrary to these values, you’ll be better equipped to respond. You also will need to keep monitoring what people are saying about you, even if the crisis has subsided.
This means that you’ll have to use engagement strategies and invest in social media monitoring tools. This way, you’ll be able to quickly respond to negative comments about your brand and prevent them from getting out of hand.
However, it’s important that you do not start dwelling on the issue. Once you’ve said your piece, made amends, and worked through the initial storm, you don’t need to keep defending yourself about the issue. As long as you have a proper plan in place and make sure that incidents don’t happen again, you need to let the quality of your product and/or services speak for themselves.
Never forget that crises can also turn into opportunities. For example, Tylenol became a leader in control and safety after the disastrous Chicago murders of 1982. So, if that brand was able to rebound after such a terrible crisis, there is probably still hope for yours.
Managing crises is never easy for a company, but it’s even more of a challenge in times of uncertainty like these. If your reputation suffered over the last few months, you would be wise to use these tactics and be proactive in your response.