Bad product, bad decision, bad press. Any one of those is enough to destroy a company. It takes a lot of factors and compounded effort to architect a reputation and only one misstep to quickly unravel it all.
But brands can and have rebuilt. There are many cases where a company has climbed back from failure and rebounded to be stronger than before. Why? Because people are innately forgiving, and everyone loves a good comeback.
Think of a star athlete. It seems whenever they are at the top of their game, the public and media thirst to find chinks in the armour. Now, should that same athlete rally back to greatness, the same critics will turn into supporters. We all admire resilience and cheer on tenacity.
There’s no shortage of businesses that have gone from rags to riches to rags and back to riches. Apple, General Motors, Lego, Polaroid, even Starbucks are just a few of the many examples.
Another impressive one is Martha Stewart who in 2004, went from being the “it” brand of the home empire to a convicted criminal. She has since ascended her way back to glory.
In case anyone needs a refresher, an article on Oprah.com notes, "After a highly publicized trial, Martha was found guilty of conspiracy, obstruction of justice and lying to federal investigators about a stock sale. She spent five months in federal prison and another six months under house arrest.”
Just 5 years later, she was more successful than ever. Her image was fully restored, her products were flying off the shelves, and she was once again regarded as the queen of domestic bliss. So, what’s the secret?
As with most things, good marketing goes a long way.
The first step is to sincerely and publicly acknowledge the mistake(s). Consumers have no tolerance for buck-passing scapegoating, or excuses. Also, people are intuitive and can see through disingenuous and phony rhetoric.
The second step is learning from the mistakes and committing to improvement. Again, the more exposed and candid the better. We live in a society where oversharing is valued. Where people love to rally behind the underdog. Leverage this to recruit sympathy and support.
Third, after sufficient remorse has been expressed and the proper penance has been paid (usually a hefty financial loss and wide-spread humiliation), a commanding rebranding must take place. It needs to reposition the products and services, hopefully with the addition of a new-and-improved roster of offerings.
The advertising campaign that ensues must be aggressive and shine a bright light on the rebirth of the company. In the eyes of the consumer, the messaging must lead to a separation between the previous poisoned brand, and the new revised version. And the nostalgia from the once-loved original brand that fell from grace will permeate through and transfer onto the fresh legacy that’s rising from the ashes.
Morty Silber, CEO
Mad Strategies Inc.
a Wizard of Ads Partner