How to Prepare Your Brand for a Crisis (Before It Goes Viral)

Brand crises are more prevalent than ever — but not for the reasons you may think.

Modern technology has created an echo chamber through which harmful misinformation flows, but that’s not the source of our crises. The current uptick is more so attributed to changing trust dynamics: We used to inherently trust people or entities in positions of power, but these days, we distribute trust to people like us, our peers.

Since the shift, brands in particular have struggled to gain (and keep) the public’s trust. In a time of massive corporate profitability and increasing social inequality, consumers hold brands to a high moral standard. In fact, 62% of consumers say they are more attracted to brands that have ethical values and demonstrate authenticity.

But therein lies the danger: When a corporation fails to meet expectations, the public is quick to condemn, whether the information they judge on is true or not — and that’s when a crisis can occur.

Brands need a strategy for crisis prevention and mitigation

With an abundance of social media platforms (i.e., Twitter, Facebook and Instagram) almost always at their fingertips, consumers have unlimited stage time with which to spread their thoughts (54% of consumers use social media more than six times each day). But some of these thoughts could go viral and critically contaminate brand value.

Brands need a robust set of strategies and tools to fully vaccinate themselves against the onset and spread of these harmful crises. Here are some of the first steps brands can take to keep their brand value intact no matter what crisis comes their way:

  • Be Transparent. Brands that transparently and truthfully serve the greater good set themselves up to avoid crises by garnering public favor and growing with purpose. In today’s social climate, brands must be completely transparent about their operations, making it clear where they source their products, how they treat employees and how they give back to the community. For example, Unilever’s purpose-driven brands are more positively received by the public than Unilever’s regular brands — and they also see accelerated growth.
  • Have a crisis management plan. A proactive approach to crisis response means having a plan in place that forecasts what could harm brand value, identifies worst case scenarios and defines how to avoid or mitigate those harms should they occur. The more preparation a brand performs in advance, the better equipped it will be to deal with an issue should it arise. A crisis management plan includes tactics like having templated messaging agreed upon in advance so there isn’t death by committee when a crisis strikes.
  • Strengthen your plan with 24/7 monitoring. Around-the-clock monitoring across the entire web is essential for catching both known and unknown issues before they become a crisis. A blend of both artificial and human intelligence is essential to the smart collection and triaging of content — technology crawls for every possible issue, but the all-important human review ensures there are no false alarms.
  • Run simulations. Just like a fire drill tests your response to leaving the office in an emergency, a crisis simulation can test the robustness of your crisis response plan. Thoughtful, well-orchestrated simulations reveal the dangerous gaps in your plan and responses through which a crisis can easily slip.

There’s no trending listicle or handy checklist that can prepare you for a crisis. Instead, protecting brand value requires a comprehensive, multi-facetted strategy with both prevention and mitigation tactics. By first addressing the steps above, brands can prepare for a crisis and successfully keep brand value and customer loyalty intact.

These tactics are the first things to think about when preparing for a crisis, but not necessarily all the tools that you need for your unique situation. For comprehensive brand value protection and help mitigating a crisis from any angle, consult the experts at Crisp.

Contact us to get started.