You’ve put a lot of time, effort and money into creating your brand. It is the basis on which you build your business, recruit new customers and deepen your relationship with current ones.
When a crisis comes along, how will your brand fare? It may be more in your control than you think.
The recent Equifax data breach is a good example: Once the news broke, shockwaves rippled through the financial community. As the news leaked out about senior leadership keeping the breach a secret for weeks and selling their stock to avoid financial losses, consumers rushed to see if their identities had been compromised. The media frenzy was on, and things seem to have spiraled downward from there.
Despite the news stories and the TV talking heads, Equifax has an ongoing need to maintain its brand. So, too, do its peers Experian and TransUnion. A quick look at each of the three websites tells a different story of how they are choosing to message to their customers. The Experian and TransUnion sites have embedded a simple, yet bold, clickable banner that takes customers to an information page, while maintaining the strength of their core brand and messages. Meanwhile, the Equifax site appears as if it is in crisis, dropping a giant orange button in the middle of the home page, and abandoning its prior look and feel. (Side note: What are the chances that someone is going to click a link from the company that just admitted it got hacked?)
This brings us to the critical question: What should a brand do when crisis hits? Here are some suggestions:
- Remain calm. Upending the look and feel of your website and other public touchpoints can be unsettling to customers and the general public, and make it look like you are in panic mode.
- Give emergency messaging a place to live. Your website is where your brand lives and breathes, so create a special place one click off your home page where you can share information that is both actionable and responsible.
- Create a call to action. When there’s a crisis, people want to know what to do and think. Take advantage of that opportunity by creating clear messaging that allows anxiety to dissipate. Create a way to allow people to give feedback; you may find some helpful information inside a rant from a worried customer.
- Don’t hide. Update your site frequently to show that you’re actively dealing with the problem, rather than hiding behind a digital wall.
- Take ownership. Include messaging that is personal and human, such as a letter or video from the CEO expressing both apologies for the situation and a resolve to remedy the issue. This will go a long way in reassuring your customers and bolstering your message to news media outlets covering the story.
- Provide resources. If people are looking for information, they’ll find it one way or another. Don’t let customers stumble upon inaccurate information online; provide links and FAQs that will drive people in the direction you want them to go.
All this boils down to one word: trust. We—sadly—live in a world where these kinds of incidents happen with greater frequency. If you respond to a crisis with thoughtful authority and poise, your brand will rebound faster and perhaps be stronger in the long run.