Your Brand And How To Protect It
April 3, 2018
If we accept the premise that brand and reputation form a significant part of a company’s value, and that crises can impact this value, the question to ask is: What do we do to protect it?
Brand As An Economic Asset
Brand and reputation make a tangible contribution to your organisation’s value. Studies suggest that the value of a company’s brand or reputation is on average 26% of market capitalisation (Cole, 2012).
The 1996 Knight and Pretty study of the impact of catastrophe on shareholder value showed that organisations making an ineffective response to a crisis event experience an average 15% loss of shareholder value. It also shows that there is opportunity in crisis events, with organisations who made an effective response to a crisis showing an average 7% rise in their share price.
This is where the discussion becomes less about balance sheets. Protecting your reputation and its value, in the midst of a crisis, is about how the people in your business respond; it is about human behaviour.
Own The Crisis
When managing a crisis event that could impact your business' reputation, it is important to establish the perceived ownership of what is going on. There is a clear distinction between:
- A crisis: you own it and need to solve it, e.g. product recall.
- An issue: multiple players with no clear owner, e.g. climate change.
Things aren’t always that cut and dried, but it is important to establish whether, in the eyes of investors and customers, you are partly or wholly responsible for the crisis. In many senses, ownership equals focus, so if you are sole owners of a crisis, expect the spotlight to be firmly on you and your organisation.
Manage The Message
The pace of commentary and reporting is extremely fast. It is often the case that stories are broken via social media before the mainstream media can get out in front of them. There are challenges for an organisation looking to present their message, which are principally pace and the wide variety of stakeholders and voices expressing an opinion.
Initiate An Intervention
Consider Volkswagen’s emissions crisis, where individuals have been imprisoned over their role in events. Or BP’s handing of the Deep Water Horizon crisis, where the public’s negative perception of the organisation was exacerbated by the actions of some key members of senior management.
- Horizon scanning: this is linked to risk management, but will enable you to see emerging issues that could evolve into crises.
- Making a response: there are plenty of examples of how not to make a crisis response. It’s not easy and requires accountability and authenticity at its core to be successful.
- Being prepared: spending time and energy preparing for something you hope will never happen can feel counter-intuitive. However, it is this rehearsal that is so vital to your ability to perform when needed.
Being prepared will cost you a tiny fraction of what your reputation is worth. Investing in planning and exercising for a crisis will enable you to safeguard your reputation asset, and if your response to the crisis is good, you can enhance your brand and its value.
Crises can be complex, evolve over long periods of time, or conversely happen in the blink of an eye. Whatever the cause of your crisis, having the ability to respond in a joined up, authentic and honest way is going to win the day. So you need to practice, regularly, simulating crisis conditions to prepare. And while practice may not make perfect, it will certainly go a long way to protecting your business, and your brand.
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About the author
A partner at Broadleaf Global, Louise Perkins believes in helping others to reach their full potential. She works in a multi-disciplinary way, encompassing business resilience, crisis management, learning and development and coaching. Louise’s approach is to always place the people at the heart of any project she undertakes, and her work in all areas is focused on enabling people to achieve a business or personal outcome.