How to avoid the brand follies

We must protect our image!

How often have you heard well-intended executives and other high-ranking leaders (priests, coaches) say these words — their goal: to ‘protect’ their institutions from embarrassing publicity, which might muck up their brands.

Talk about misguided measures. At the core of every successful brand is integrity — it’s the only thing that generates trust in whoever your customers happen to be (consumers, investors, college football players, alumni, parishioners). Mess with integrity and you mess with the value of your brand, whether it’s your company’s or your own.

My nominees for most egregious brand follies winners in recent memory are: Penn State, Toyota, BP, Olympus and the Catholic church. Who comes to mind for you?

No doubt, there are more, lurking in the shadows of decency, waiting to shoot themselves in the foot and blow millions in dollars and good will, not to mention trust.

Here, in brief, is how not to become a brand follies nominee: 1) Next time you’re faced with a tough call that might cost the company money in support of its values, write the check, 2) Be real. Share a story or two about when the organization didn’t get it right, but went on to fix the problem, and 3) Take stock of all issues that could potentially rock your corporate boat and figure out how to address them, directly, now.

And your nominees for the next round of brand follies are…?


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