[ public relations / advertising / strategic planning / web development ]
A brand is the most visible part of a business and many companies spend millions of dollars to protect the integrity of that brand. It’s kind of like looking after a toddler. Once a child starts crawling parents have one eye on the child at all times. When the child gets too close to an open staircase, a hot stove or the china cabinet, parents react immediately to avoid disaster. Many take precautions like baby gates, anticipating the possibility of an accident and protecting the child from elements or areas that could be harmful.
A brand too needs to be protected, cared for and kept from harm. Like caring for a small child, if protections and strategies are not put in place, it only takes one good slip to bruise or tarnish a brand.
Recently, home-style cooking icon Paula Dean announced she has diabetes. It wasn’t the disease that put her under fire with consumers and the media. It was the fact that she kept the illness quiet for three years, all the while promoting down home, sugar-filled recipes to her fan base. In addition, when she decided to go public with her news, she also announced she was working on behalf of a drug company that makes a medication for diabetes.
Dean is taking a good amount of criticism from fans and media, being called a hypocrite and tearing down a brand that she spent a lifetime building. Now I’m sure Paula has a great (and very expensive) team of PR and marketing people working to message her way through this and reposition her moving forward. She’ll take some lumps in the short term, but Paula will likely recover. Hindsight being what it is – you have to wonder how the situation would have played out if she announced her news three years ago and launched a new line of healthy recipes, cook books, videos, etc.
A big part of the game in maintaining a strong reputation and protecting brand integrity is thinking one step ahead at all times. Be proactive in protecting the brand you’ve built and when stuff hits the fan, be prepared to defend and protect.