Protect your brand

Why Protecting Brand Equity is Everyone’s Job

Protecting brands isn’t just marketing’s responsibility. Brand equity can be lost in an instant, making it everybody’s job to keep brands safe.

The global pandemic and unrest in our communities has put a massive spotlight on brands big and small. Customers and prospects are watching closely how companies respond and likely will make decisions based on how well or poorly brands performed during these unprecedented times.

A peek inside the marketing curtains.

Being a marketer goes well beyond cool campaigns, pretty brochures using the correct fonts, colors and imagery. Protecting brands is a major responsibility and can be a heavy burden at times. Here’s a sampling of the many thoughts that permeate our marketing brains.

“If we respond too slowly on social media, customers fault the brand for not caring enough.”

 

“Remarketing and email automation technology helps my team perform better, but what is the right balance to avoid alienating prospective clients?”

 

“If we don’t make a statement about what’s happening within our community, prospects assume we’ve done nothing.”

It’s amazing we marketers get anything done, let alone deliver ROI!

Keeping brands out of the news. Expect the worst. Prepare for the best.

An investigative journalist group informed me that in 48 hours they were releasing an exposé story on a supplier that produced one of my medical devices. This group claimed the supplier illegally manufactured the device. You can imagine the gravity of the situation and potential scenarios racing through my head. Consumers panicking, hospitals threatening to discontinue our products, concerned employees and senior leadership questioning the value of a long-term supplier. All of this was on my shoulders! The next 48 hours were intense with meetings upon meetings and crisis communications plans developed and put into place. The story was released, but there were no merit to the accusations. Fortunately, it did not get wide press and my brand was not mentioned. In this situation, the best publicity was no publicity. But I was prepared and had implemented new processes and procedures. In today’s viral world of social media, you must be at the ready – with technology to help you listen and respond to keep your brand strong and safe.

You must sweat the small stuff with your brand. Really.

Being faced with massive PR situations comes with the job. But it’s the little things that can mess up brand equity. I managed a #1 market share position thanks to shelf space at Home Depot. I was overseeing a package redesign and signed off on the design for printing. Fast-forward to a call from Home Depot’s buyer that the UPC bar code was ringing up incorrectly at a lower price. Sure, consumers received a better deal, but Home Depot got shortchanged on each sale. Not only did I have to make them whole on the margin loss, the entire inventory also had to be reworked. During the lengthy package review process, I manually proofed the UPC on each revision, except the last proof. It was correct in all previous versions. What could possibly go wrong?! It was a costly error to my brand and negatively impacted the relationship with my customer. I should have heeded carpentry wisdom of “measure twice, cut once.”

Everyone can lend a hand in brand safety.

We all are brand ambassadors and play a role in protecting brand equity even if we’re not in the marketing department. In today’s digital world, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic, mistakes whether unintentional or not, can have an even more detrimental effect when hitting ‘send’. Errors, like misspellings, incorrect grammar, tone, or language that may offend, can be devastating. Having an extra set of eyes is golden. Of course, most companies don’t have the luxury of a QC staff to proof every piece of content or social media post. Ask someone from another department to proof – even reading from the bottom up. You’ll be amazed how many inaccuracies can be found by someone who isn’t familiar with our marketing speak. It’s better to send it out late and be correct than dealing with the internal and external repercussions of slip-ups. Trust me, I know. I’ve been there having once deployed an email campaign to 5,000 users with a misspelled product name – even after many cross-functional reviews. Gulp!

Mistakes happen – whether we are decades into our career or just starting out. That’s how we learn and continuously improve. I hope you work for an organization that embraces learning from failures. We want customers to have real, authentic experiences with our brands on social media, but not at the expense of brand denigration.  Two simple questions to ask yourself are (1) would you still do X if it was splashed on the front page of a media outlet? And (2) Would you say it out loud to your grandma? If not, then don’t say it at all.

Share your stories

What is your most embarrassing brand blunder? What would you have done differently communicating to customers during the early days of COVID-19? What brand actions will you continue doing in the post-pandemic recovery phase?

#WeAreAllBrandAdvocates
#BrandingIsOurResponsibility
#BrandingNotJustForMarketers

Keeping marketing accountable

Cheers.

Jessica@HPZmarketing.com

Jessica Kelley is a seasoned leader with more than two decades of marketing and finance experience in B2B and B2C channels. She has worked extensively within healthcare, consumer, commercial, and software industries in diverse environments ranging in size from a $100 billion corporation to a startup firm. Her company, HPZ Marketing, is certified by the WBENC as a Women’s Business Enterprise.

 

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