Great piece in the current issue of the Economist looking at how to recover from a brand crisis. Using Brand Tiger as a lead in, they look at how several companies have responded well. The column has a great set of questions to ask early in a crises to help determine response:
The key to a successful relaunch lies in making a cool-headed assessment of how much the scandal damages your company. Does it involve life and limb, rather than less consequential matters? Has it spread beyond particular products or particular divisions to afflict the entire corporate brand? If the answer to both questions is yes, then companies are well advised to go into collective overdrive; if it is no, then they can experiment with more nuanced responses, such as lopping off a tainted product or sacrificing a rogue division.
Marsh & McLennan and JetBlue are used as example in the “good” category, even though in the case of JetBlue the CEO ended up stepping down (while he handled the crisis admirably). The final piece of advice is at once simple and hard to do – in a crisis, remember to focus on the customer and customer needs, and not on your company or brand. As they note:
Companies have a habit of acting like Jack when their brands are in trouble—talking endlessly about how they are fixing this or reorganising that. But most successful decontaminators look at the world’s from Jill’s point of view. Johnson & Johnson’s handling of the Tylenol crisis (when an unidentified attacker poisoned some bottles of the painkiller) is the gold standard of crisis management because the company simply recalled all Tylenol without hesitation or demur. Similarly, Edward Breen, the boss of Tyco, rescued the conglomerate’s reputation after his predecessor, Dennis Kozlowski, was imprisoned, by launching a public-relations campaign that focused on what the company’s products do to improve people’s lives.
And I’ll add – talk less, do more. Actions have way more impact than words!