When your customers and prospects compare how they feel about your company to the way they did about BP after the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, you know you're in a crisis.
Such were the findings from a research study we at LEVEL5 did late last year. The study explored how Canadians really felt about hockey given the ongoing (at the time) lockout between the millionaires and billionaires of the National Hockey League. The results indicated an alarming amount of damage was being done to the NHL brand.
The question for the NHL now is: what is it going to do about this to ensure it doesn't get cross-checked by its fans? In other words, what's its best tool to manage through a crisis as effectively as possible?
The answer to that question is relevant to businesses of any size facing a crisis. In my 35 years of experience in branded businesses, I've found that your brand is by far the best tool you have to manage through a crisis, provided you leverage it through what I call Smart Brave Action. And one of the great things about brand is that it can be used by SMEs just as effectively as by large organizations like BP or the NHL. Not only that, but your brand can also help you successfully manage through more everyday challenges. It can help you with, say, a bad customer experience or product-quality issues, as well as through a life-or-death struggle.
Your No. 1 Tool in a Crisis
Your brand is such an important tool for managing a crisis because it clearly defines the key strategic elements of your company—what it stands for and how it's differentiated and valued by consumers and customers—and applies to every function and department within your business. This clarity provides management with a guide for decision-making throughout the company that leverages its strategic advantage to find the optimal solution(s) quickly, effectively and seamlessly. That's just want you want in a crisis, when emotions are running high, time is short and judgment may be askew.
Read more about brands: How a Promise Can Drive Your Business Forward
Here's how applying Smart Brave Action to brand management can help make brand an even more effective tool for managing through even the worst crisis.
Smart Brave Action
When I use the term Smart Brave Action, here's what I mean:
Smart means uncovering unique insight and understanding of your customers and employees that can act as a catalyst for change. This can be done through qualitative or quantitative research, or by simply talking to your customers and employees to learn what they think about your company.