We live in an age where unsubstantiated news about brands can spread in real time throughout all forms of media. Generally the impact to unfavourable news is exponentially higher than the benefit derived from favourable news. Just ask any of the various stakeholders in Bell Pottinger, McKinsey, KPMG, Tiger Brands and EOH on having to try continue operating in a very negative business environment towards their brands. KPMG's "relatively" small compromise in ethics by 1 or 2 individuals in one business unit at one office blew up to proportions where firstly clients and then key professionals started leaving the "brand" despite not having any problems with service they received from a totally different business unit. KPMG has since closed most satellite offices around the country, retrenched hundreds and will need to spend millions and years to rebuild trust in their brand.
The scary thing is very few companies have actually sat down to identify which aspects of their business has the largest impact to their brands.
Most large corporates are already familiar with risk reporting as a Corporate Governance requirement and generally all have "Enterprise Risk Management (ERM)" practices in place. So how is it possible that an "integrity" risk can take down a pillar of integrity such as an Auditor or that a "public relations" scandal can take down an PR Agency?
It would seem that the brand and the essential components of a brand is never really taken as a starting point. Our investigation of corporate risk registers relating to "brand risk" is that damage to the brand only features as a consequence of some business failure. Even in these cases it is lumped with "reputational damage" together with a number of other couple of other impacts. This ultimately leaves an organisation with a very limited understanding of the risks and drivers facing the one of their biggest assets that ensures business continuity, their brand!
One can't blame ERM teams for not knowing where to start when trying to unpack something as intangible such as a brand! Most ERM professionals come from financial background so approaching a brand agency to provide assistance does not always spring to mind! Brands are notoriously difficult to value, this in turn makes it very difficult to integrate into risk registers. Even without the help of a specialist, one really just needs to carefully understand the key drivers underpinning a brand.
Interestingly, brands operating in the same industry often have very different risk profiles when it comes to their brands. For example, a company like Plascon that relies on their brand to exemplify quality in order to justify premium pricing has a different risk profile to that a newer entrant who may want their brand to exemplify best all round value for money. Risks relating to quality will feature in both organisations but the damage to say Plascons brand will be a lot larger if some report came to light that their premium priced products were in fact inferior!
At CopperCoast, we follow an approach where we put the brand in the spotlight. Together with our qualified in-house ERM specialist and brand consultants, we facilitate discussion with clients with the aim of unpacking some of the main drivers that affect sentiment towards their brands.
After assessing how some of these risks are currently being managed, we help our clients to identify solutions to improve their chances to prevent and/or reduce the impact to their brands, should any of these risks materialise. Technology also allows for early warning signals in social media, call centres and other forums to quickly contain events as they start to unfold.
Other related services we offer include:
Brand and Reputation Management Audits: Independent verification of controls currently relied upon to manage key risks
Brand Compliance Audits: Brand Compliance audits to CI Guides, application by 3rd parties, branches, franchisees etc
Brand Reputation and Perception Surveys: We offer independent assistance in developing comprehensive and relevant brand perception surveys. We focus on smaller more select surveys specific to the target market.
Brand Rebuilding strategies: Together with clients we develop practical strategies to help clients rebuild their brands and regain trust with clients and employees.
Corporate Identity Guidelines (CI Guides) development: Develop detailed CI guides to ensure brands are consistently applied across all communication platforms.
We would love to read your thoughts on this, so please leave a comment below alternatively feel free to contact us if you would like more information on how we could help you in your business.