Branding + Marketing

Bad Publicity Dispelled by Good Branding

May 4, 2019

Like a cult movie that bombed at the box office but has now become essential classics for any cinephile, good branding defies a momentary blip of lousy publicity. These movies, or in your case, brand, don’t need a sequel, they need to keep the conversation going. To keep the cult alive. To keep the fanbase happy. To keep the consumers informed and intrigued by the methods that drew them in, in the first place.

Here are four steps that seal the deal for any PR Blunder.

STEP ONE: Acknowledge the human, technical or other error.

Don’t deny what happened but graciously address any backlash, questions or concerns that arise. If you encounter any media, PR or questions from your general audience and public, think of it as an opportunity to communicate with your clients on a more specific and controlled manner. Regardless if the topic is good or bad, anytime you can capture their attention, you need to be frank. Hiring a company to write a press release, to post online content, all these assets to coincide with any other public arena you might hold speaks highly in your favor during unfavorable and unfortunate times.

STEP TWO: Maintain your brand tone.

While you want to get ahead of the rumors and snowballing speculations, it’s essential you take time to consider how you will present the message carefully. Also, whatever message it is, that it visually and verbally is cohesive with the pre-PR flop. That way it’s a seamless transition into your next chapter. Now is not the time to release a new website or a new logo. Shifting the paradigm of your brand denotes an unstable brand message; a mission that is easily shaken just because one or two isolated events occurred unfavorably. The best thing to do would be to release content that enables you to showcase your strong branding; to remind your consumers of your strengths. To position yourself as the expert you are.

Just because this is a severe case, doesn’t mean you have to lose all the personality of your brand. Chipotle, whom we’ll discuss further below, underwent extreme public scrutiny after over ten outbreaks of foodborne illnesses arose across the nation. However not once did their image lose its charm, despite its reputation image getting bruised.

The company you built your brand can help you continually make it through this phase as well. They will be able to guide you through.

STEP THREE: Be the comeback kid with positive branding AND Move forward with a new campaign.

According to a study released by NPR in August of 2018, Health officials drew attention to another foodborne illness dilemma of Chipotle restaurant, located in Ohio. While it solely focused on negative issues, on food poisoning and recalled how Chipotle’s CEO Brian Niccol made the executive decision to close 65 underperforming restaurants. However, Chipotle quickly rebutted with a proactive plan in hopes to circumvent further outbreaks like this. A nationwide staff retraining would ensure they would comply with The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Chipotle’s zero-tolerance policy for any violations of their stringent food safety standards.

As they’re releasing statements like this publicly, like many companies, work is being done behind the scenes to keep the positive momentum going. A stagnant cell is a dead cell. A brand not moving forward is a brand receding. Worse, a brand whose last online search features negative news needs to make stuff happen, so others don’t make stuff up.

In this case, recently Chipotle celebrated Teacher’s Appreciation Day by offering a buy one, get one free for educators and staff at all levels, including support members. Gestures like these among their communities prove that their mission is more than serving meals but serving people.

Their food with integrity translates to working toward gaining their consumer’s trust regardless of any misconception and/or mishandling.

Not sure how you can apply this comeback marketing method? Let’s say you’re a donut shop. Participate in Fasnacht day and include a video about your company’s history of donuts to showcase the pride and knowledge in the product.

An IT company? Make free estimates personable. Address pain points rather than focusing on the fact that they’re free. A social media campaign is ideal in this instance considering while we’re online we’re most aware of our IT issues.

These are just two scenarios on how Chipotle’s national dilemma and their quick PR footwork, exceptional branded campaigns and timeliness reassure their dedicated fan base that they are superior to other fast food chains.

In similar situations, it’s essential to follow those three rules: maintain your brand in any campaign, release it as quickly as possible, and keep it as full of reassurance as possible, taking ownership where and when necessary.

STEP FOUR: Do all of the above utilizing your professional design and marketing firm.

Chipotle’s online, in print and environmental signage never misses a beat. From their doodles on the cups to their rewards program and gift cards, every component is seamless.

From the bags that carry the burrito wrappers to the mouthwatering commercials, Chipotle looks as good as it tastes even if there is negative reviews or news.

That is not by accident or word of mouth. That comes from the help of very intentional creatives.

If you find yourself in a similar situation or just a case where your business isn’t gaining traction, the following are areas that will boost your presence in the eye of skeptical consumers.

  • Video: Here are areas to interact with your audience and reasons to hire your design team after lousy publicity.
  • Testimonials: Getting authentic client reviews that show body language, expression and location always speak louder than Yelp reviews.
  • Commercial: Put yourself out there. What’s the worse thing that could happen?
  • Social Media clips: Everyone is scrolling online and with video rising in popularity as the number one platform for communication interaction, utilizing 30-90 second clips to share your story, whether direct or indirect are great ways to create snippets that are easy to share.
  • Newsletters: Push clients to sign up for a newsletter so they can “cut the line” and be the first to know what’s new. If you want to insinuate whether the first of the news also includes good AND bad, that’s up to you.
  • Social Media: With the evolution of Lifestyle Instagrammers and brands, social media is more cohesive than ever. Having a custom-designed social media squares for every and any occasion helps set your company above and apart from other companies.
  • Environmental: Any signage, wall art – even menus – all these are ways you can extend your brand’s tone and message into the actual ambiance of the space, helps dispel any negativity. Every Chipotle, while different in layout, create the same experience by having the same environmental elements. That consistency is reassuring when trouble seems afoot. To know that despite any unsettling news, one can count on the stability and sameness of the company.

Other areas you will see a designer’s influence is packaging, online graphics through the website, blogs that keep the web visitors informed or something as simple as their signature words, iconography, verbiage. Capitalizing on these tightens the cord between company and consumer.

Have any other questions on how you can turn an unfortunate event into an opportunity to propel your brand into the public’s eye? We are is here to help our clients educate, advocate and thrive in a digital world using web design, web development, film, video, animation, marketing, SEO, PPC, and social media. Ready to remind your clients why they chose you to begin with? Choose us!

Cross & Crown

About Cross & Crown

Cross & Crown is a team of creatives who are passionate about solving problems through design and technology, taking what is there and making it better. Based in Chambersburg, PA, we strive to help educate, advocate, and thrive in a digital world.

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