Reputations in Tatters again

Risk and reputational Management has long been a key issue and challenge in marketing.

I have often pointed out that reputational upsets and their unplanned and grave impact form the clearest proof that Marketers do not ‘own the brand’ however much they try to make it otherwise.

This leads me to take a special interest in marketing and brand manager’s responses to reputation risks and upsets – and the effectiveness or otherwise of their efforts to steady the ship.

This year we have seen famous actors ‘airbrushed’ out of finished movies, Tech brands cornered and forced to admit privacy and other failings.  A phone manufacturer forced to address a curiously ‘upgrade friendly’ tendency of their older phones to run slower and slower;  and the list goes on.

I have identified consistent curve of denial, growing uproar, weak response, more uproar, stronger response and finally a return to ‘near normal’.  Too much of this though produces and amplified and accelerated uproar the next time and I suspect there is a point where a brands reputation is seriously damaged despite eventually doing the right things (VW diesels emissions might yet end up as a case study)

Social media and online online discussions on relevant issues can spread some very strongly held feelings – a good example being the much decried lack of response by some IT companies to the KRACK flaw found in WiFi protocols last summer.
Several appear, at least externally, to still prefer to blame a flawed standard and shrug their shoulders rather than work to nevertheless protect end users from the flaw’s implications.
This provides an interesting case study as a consumer whose -account is hacked via a particular un-patched WiFi connected device seems unlikely to blame the WiFi standards alliance and instead round on the device maker who knew of but chose not to address the flaw for their customers.

If I’m right the correct thing will be done in the end, as it usually is – the question is how much reputational battering comes first