The Marketing Guy

Rooting for Good Marketing Since 2009

The Fragility of Your Brand and its Impact on your Marketing

With resources still being cut to the bone, there aren’t too many companies out there with extra marketing dollars just sitting around waiting to be spent (unless you’re rolling in the iPad money these days—but I digress). Now on the one hand this makes for more resourceful marketing—unleashing creativity and trying out new and unconventional activities that can take your business in new and exciting directions. But it also removes most of the margin for error that marketers have when something unexpected happens.

We’ve talked in this space before about the challenge of managing your message when increasing amounts of marketing are out of your control. The social media explosion of information and access means that you’re one bad customer experience and a video camera away from a viral video that hits millions of people instantly through Twitter. For us marketers then, this puts a huge emphasis on making our companies and brands as strong as possible, so that we can withstand the inevitable surprises and assaults from the marketplace and irate customers when something goes wrong.

Pick up any one of a thousand of books on branding these days, and you’ll read a lot about building your brand, but not nearly as much on maintaining it. But the maintenance, while often less glamorous and exciting, helps you sustain these downward cycles. So at your next quarterly marketing review, ask a question of your team—first, think of a worst case scenario for your company—product recall, defect, viral video—whatever it is for you. Then ask for a straight up or down vote—would our brand and company be able not just to survive, but recover from such an event? The answer you provide will say a lot about the fragility of your brand and the type of marketing you need to be engaged in right now.

Now don’t think you’re alone if you aren’t able to truly answer in the affirmative. Again, most of us don’t have the resources and sheer amount of equity that the big brands do—for many of us, we’re just a few unhappy big customers away from having a real problem on our hands. But if you don’t think you’d be able to survive the “big crash,” have a realistic conversation on what you need to do to be less fragile. What steps can you take, what programs can you initiate, but PR can you generate that will start to build up some equity in case bad news occurs?

We’re seeing examples all around us these days of what happens when brands don’t have anything in reserve to sustain the backlash of the marketplace. Take heed of their issues and ensure you have a plan in place to start stocking up.

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