Andrea Brody, Chief Marketing Officer, Riskonnect
It’s no secret that enterprises are wrought with risks. And yet, while bad workplace environments and less than secure firewalls are gaining all of the attention, many chief marketers are finding their biggest selling point is also their biggest risk: their brands.
We all witnessed the mixed reactions to Nike launching its 30th anniversary with Colin Kaepernick as the face of the campaign. Though a number of consumers were outraged, Nike benefited from an increase in sales and a five percent increase in stock value.
However, Nike is an atypical example of a positive outcome resulting from risky brand initiatives. Far too often, these risks backfire, causing brands to rebound from these mistakes. Look no further than H&M’s early 2018 miscue where they featured a young African American model in a hoodie that read “Coolest Monkey in the Jungle.” Or Nivea launching their “White is Purity” campaign.
The reality is that brands take years to build and only minutes to crumble in today’s “always on” environment. So how can marketing leaders be champions of creativity and innovation, while still protecting their establish brand foundation? It comes down to understanding the potential risks associated with your brand strategy.
Know your current brand perception and growth path
To determine how susceptible your brand is to potential risks, it is crucial to understand the current market perception of your brand. How does your target market view your brand? Conservative? Innovative? Mature? Juvenile?
In gathering data on the public’s perception of your brand, your marketing team can develop a strategy that aligns to the public perception, allowing the brand to grow and evolve while still staying true to its established identity.
While brands are expected to redefine themselves and evolve with the shifting customer and prospect needs, risks arise when these transformations happen overnight. Pushing a brand’s evolution too far too soon exposes it to unwanted risks, threatening both its pre-established target perceptions as well as its existing customer base.
Always be prepared for a brand nightmare
Regardless of how risky or safe your brand strategy, brand nightmares can still arise. Whether from misinterpreted executions to social media blunders, brands must always be prepared to react and respond to risks.
To be successful in response efforts, marketing teams must work closely with risk teams to recognize brand risks early by embedding risk sensing into an organization’s risk governance program, allowing for 24/7 monitoring of the brand.
Likewise, teams should work to establish brand risk governance processes that involve stakeholders from teams including marketing, risk management, internal and external communications, human resources and operations. This team should be at the forefront of brand risks, responding to any incidents that arise.
Lastly, and most importantly, brands must keep the customers at the forefront. When mistakes are made, brands should not be afraid to make public commitments and communicate on any plans to resolve the brand issue. Remember, there is nothing more important than communication when rebuilding trust and reputation.
About the Author: Andrea Brody is chief marketing officer at Riskonnect, where she drives product strategy developed through the voice of the customer and ensures every organization understands why an integrated approach to risk is the only way to protect corporate brands. Before joining Riskonnect, Brody was CMO at BravoSolution, a Chicago-based cloud procurement solutions company. There she managed a team across 12 countries to better align go-to-market strategy with the buyer’s journey and ideal buyer personas. She earned a Bachelor of Science in Marketing degree from the University of Maryland, Robert H. Smith School of Business.