For a small business owner, protecting your company’s reputation is everything. Your unique brand is what defines you among your customer base, and helps drive business through your door. Nursing a damaged brand makes success much more difficult.
You get to control your brand’s reputation. You can control whether you provide top-notch customer service, or if you are offering a quality product at a competitive price.
But what happens when your brand takes a hit due to something out of your control? Maybe your shop or product is tangentially connected to a local scandal. Maybe a competitor decides to play dirty and post a blistering review of your business on a popular posting board?
Recently, Saturday Night Live ran a funny commercial parody that targeted New Balance, a Boston-based sneaker and apparel manufacturer. The parody centered around how New Balance sneakers are designed for athletes, but are also popular among, well, non-athletic types.
For viewers, the parody was funny. But for New Balance executives, the humor was certainly tempered by a fear that, if the clip went viral, the company’s image and brand reputation could be damaged – not due to anything the company specifically did, but because an outside entity (SNL) decided to have some fun.
(It’s pointless to focus whether an external attack on a brand is “true” or not. The question instead should be, is it effective? Check out this Boston Herald story on how PR experts say New Balance should respond.)
Thirty years ago, bad press could be thrown out with yesterday’s newspaper. Today, the Internet has become a massive online archive detailing all of our public successes, failures, and forgettable moments. From bad customer reviews to viral videos, it’s all there for customers to see at the click of a web search.
As a small business owner, you can’t control all external threats, but you can control what people find when they search for your company. For years now major companies and celebrities have used PR and marketing services to “detox” their online profiles. Even job-seekers are encouraged to do the same, as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram feeds supplement resumes and interviews.
Do you encourage customers to post an online review to tell others about their positive experience?
Do you have an active online presence, and engage your tech-savvy customers through social media?
Are you actively involved in your community, perhaps by sponsoring a youth sports team, or helping coordinate a local event?
Lida Citroen, a corporate branding consultant, has posted some simple steps a business can take to repair a damaged brand. Use her tips to get your brand on the road to recovery.
Want to learn more about keeping your brand in tip-top shape? Here are a few recent blogs with tips and strategies specifically geared to help small business owners promote and protect their brand: