When we talk about branding, we think automatically about how to sell ourselves on a regular day. But a good marketing manager like you wants to think about how to develop your own language and identity under pressure. Which means thinking in advance about how your brand responds to crisis in a way that respects the situation but still brings your image to life.
The first piece of advice might seem counter-intuitive, but it’s certainly the best advice we can think of – don’t go into crisis mode. Yes, we said don’t. Why? Because you want to demonstrate that you’re in control of the crisis, whether it’s a major product shortage or a scandal around a particular issue. You also want your brand to come across as thoughtful and deliberate, no matter what your brand’s personality. That means that, even if your brand has a youthful and exciting image, you don’t want to just say something funny when people are looking to your brand for a meaningful response to an issue.
You do, though, want to make sure to respond in your brand’s voice. If your brand’s image is deliberate and professional, you want to reflect that in whatever statements you make times of crisis. If your brand had a community-focused identity, then you want to respond even to some scandals with that focus in mind.
This is a great time to go back to your organization’s core values. If you don’t have any of those, that’s a problem. Knowing what the pillars of your organization and its work is a helpful tool for decision making around products and procedures on those regular days, but they’re a literal must-have in times of crisis. They’ll help you decide how you want people to feel when they read your statements in times of crisis, as well as where your organization stands on particular issues.
And, once you have all these things down, you want to respond quickly, but on your own time. It might seem like a contradiction, but it’s really not. You want to make a response within a time frame that still respects this issue you’re responding to, while still giving you the time to be thoughtful in your response and in line with your values. Depending on the type of organization, that might mean making sure that all of your directors have had a chance to read it. For others, it might mean having a couple members of your marketing staff read it over. For some others, it might just mean drafting it and waiting until tomorrow. Whatever time you decide on, just remember that your intention is to respond, not react.
Optimistically, you’ll never have to use any of these tips in your marketing work, but things always happen. But even if they don’t have to diffuse, these tips are still fantastic tools to respond to issues affecting competitors to give you a leg up, or to give your brand a chance to respond to pressing social issues that you have some attachment to.