Unless your head has been buried in the sand in the last few months, you’ve been subjected to the almost daily updates on the Goldman Sachs and Toyota debacles. I’ve joked through Twitter (@MindTreeCMO) that you couldn’t pay me enough to be the Head of Communications for either company. But in all seriousness, I think there is a valuable lesson to be taken from these cases if you are a marketing professional.
Honesty is the Best Policy. How many times did we hear this from our parents while growing up? Yet, it remains one of the most important philosophies that I try to apply to my personal and professional life.
Although the companies are quite different, the colossal mistake they both made was the same. Specifically, if Toyota and Goldman Sachs would have acted quicker, and had been more upfront with what was going on at their respective companies, they would have limited the corporate brand damage significantly.
David Ogilvy defined brand as the intangible sum of a product’s attributes. Others have defined brand as a promise that a product, service, company will deliver to its buyer (consumer). By some estimates, a brand comprises up to 80% of an S&P 500 company’s intangible assets. Only time will tell if we ever again believe the promises that Goldman and Toyota make to us, their customers. In the court of public opinion, we are all customers, regardless of whether or not we drive their cars; or buy their financial products.
Are you prepared for a similar crisis at your company? Do you have a philosophy on how to address it? Finally, do you have an experienced crisis team to make the decisions?