Personal Branding: What to Do When Things Go Wrong

Every one of us makes mistakes. This is certainly true in the world of business. As hard as we try to do right by our customers, things go wrong from time to time. Sometimes it is a relatively small thing—like a defective product or a shipping delay. Sometimes it is a much bigger deal – an employee makes an inappropriate statement that is picked up by the press, or an error while filing taxes turns into an embarrassing public affair.

These events impact the brand of the business and the individual in question—and unfortunately, not in a good way. So how should you respond when something goes wrong? Below are five principles to keep in mind as you seek to maintain a strong, appealing brand even when things aren’t going well.

1) Acknowledge the problem. Burying your head in the sand won’t work. If you’ve made a mistake, address it. As they say, the first step to overcoming a problem is admitting that you are facing the problem to begin with. Don’t make the matter worse by pretending that “all is well” when it isn’t.

2) Apologize if necessary. Once you have acknowledged that there is a problem, apologize to whoever was adversely impacted. It may be a single customer. It may be your employees. It may be your customer base. Heck, it could even be your town in the event of a catastrophic event like a chemical spill. Bottom line… if you’re at fault, come clean and apologize.

3) Identify what went wrong and make corrections. Make sure that this failure or mistake is not wasted. In other words, learn something from it so that you don’t repeat your mistake. It might be re-training your employees, it might mean a new marketing campaign, or it might be changing your entire business model. Take whatever action is necessary to avoid repeating your errors. Depending on the situation, it’s usually a good idea to let whomever was adversely affected know that you’re taking steps to avoid a repeat.

4) Change the conversation. Once you’ve acknowledged the problem, apologized, and taken steps to avoid a repeat… it’s time to move on! Allowing the conversation to dwell on the mistakes made in the past will only weaken your brand. So look for an opportunity to change the subject. Offer a great new promotion. Launch a new location. Write a book. Shoot a video. The options are endless—find an exciting way to change the subject and get your audience re-focused on the positive elements of your brand.

5) Continue to focus on relationships. I have said many times that “people buy people” and that investing in relationships is a critical marketing strategy. This is especially true when it comes to crisis management. If you’ve built strong relationships with your customers, employees, vendors, and your community, you can afford to weather tough times. The strength of these relationships means that it will be much easier for these people to “forgive and forget.” So continue to invest in strong relationships!

Nobody is perfect— we all make mistakes. How you respond to mistakes can determine the fate of your brand and ultimately your business. If you’d like to learn more, please get in touch with me or any of the Agents at our Agency today!

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