resilient brands

At any given moment, it seems there are always a few brands making headlines for something undesirable. It could be a social media faux pas, a senior leader in the spotlight for unscrupulous behavior or an angry customer who went viral with a frustrating experience.

The fact is that even the strongest, most popular brands are not immune from unpredictable bumps. Stuff happens. Employees are people, and sometimes they’ll make mistakes or bad decisions – whether they’re an executive or a front line worker.

Resiliency is an Outcome of Brand Alignment

When bumps occur, a brand’s ability to gracefully recover is often connected to how focused the company has been on the customer promise. Companies that have rigorously and intentionally aligned behind the brand promise are generally able to recover faster and easier. What makes them more resilient?

Brand-aligned companies typically have strong cultures that rely on the customer promise as a solid foundation and context for day-to-day operations. When a situation occurs, leaders can immediately look to the brand promise to guide them toward solutions. By acting in accordance with the promise, leaders can make decisions and take action to resolve the situation while maintaining the integrity of the organization and its commitment to customers.

Explain the Situation Honestly and Openly

In brand-aligned companies, communication to employees will explain the situation honestly and openly. In these organizations, employees are accustomed to communication that consistently supports and aligns with the brand promise. During times of disruption, they will appreciate knowing what’s going on and will be reassured by language that is familiar and in alignment with the brand. This will help drown out the noise that may occur through social media, the news or idle gossip. Messages will restate the commitment, dedication and accountability shared by the entire organization toward delivery of the promise.

Resilient brands take ownership for whatever has happened, both internally with employees and externally with customers. They don’t make excuses or point fingers. They quickly acknowledge the situation, apologize when necessary and work to make things right as rapidly as possible.

Their legions of fans and customers may feel immediately disappointed when they learn that a favorite brand has faltered. Most can easily forgive when they see action and commitment that aligns with the promise.  In some respects, the bonds may grow even stronger. When fans see proof that a favorite brand is living up to what they expect even in the face of adverse situations, it can reaffirm their commitment and loyalty.

How Brand Alignment Begins

Brand alignment may seem unrealistic or impossible for some organizations. The thought of where to start can be daunting. The good news is that alignment can begin in any department or on any team that is committed to delivering the promise.

Brand-aligned companies treat the process of alignment as a rigorous, ongoing practice. Alignment is not a destination, but a perpetual commitment to being accountable for the brand promise throughout every department, team and function. For these organizations, a bump in the road doesn’t cause a major implosion. Unexpected issues are handled in a way that aligns with customer expectations while continuing to deliver the promise of the brand.

To understand more about brand alignment, you might enjoy our position paper: The Case for Internal-External Brand Alignment.

To read about other characteristics of aligned brands, be sure to check out these articles:

The Power of the Customer Promise: Characteristics of Aligned Brands

Focused: Why Customers and Employees are Drawn to Focused Companies

Open: How Open Brands Communicate and Collaborate

Agile: How Agile Organizations Embrace Change

Confident: How Confident Brands Break all the Rules

Magnetic: How Magnetic Brands Attract Customers and Employees

About Alice Wright

As Director of Content Strategy, Alice directs projects while also designing program strategy and instructional content. She has more than 22 years of experience managing integrated strategic marketing, communication and training programs for globally recognized brands. Some of her current and past clients include Nike, Sunglass Hut, Safeway, Banfield Pet Hospital, Office Depot, Unilever, LensCrafters, EMC, Intel, Microsoft, Dell, adidas, Joann Stores and others. Alice earned her bachelor’s degree from the School of Journalism and Communication at University of Oregon. She lives with her husband and teenage son in Portland, Oregon where she loves exploring the outdoors and being a soccer/band mom.