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Lilly Reynolds

Visual Artist

When a brand faces adversity in the public eye, there are a few key ways to act.

Instead of reacting in the heat of the moment and digging the hole deeper, it’s imperative to be intentional, thoughtful and maintain integrity in your response.

Band-aids don’t work on brands.

Communicate with your audience or you’ll lose their trust.

Prepared action > Reaction



When a company has their dirty laundry exposed, people expect to hear directly from them. They are first looking for acknowledgement, clarity, and truth in their response. Beyond that, whether they know it or not, they’re really looking for quickness, transparency, and quality follow through. If a company responds defensively and/or vaguely, it’s likely they’ll lose a good bit of trust (thus, business) in the process. Most brands need to respond to crisis of their name/employees/actions quickly with quality messaging that is absolutely transparent in nature.


When something is exposed about any element of a company in a negative light, it’s vital that the company takes it seriously and quickly addresses their audience. If it’s a very large corporation with a huge following and/or audience base, it’s likely important that this happens publicly, on all of their prominent platforms. There are examples of cases where staying quiet ended up being beneficial, but more often than not silence looks like hiding. If loyal customers are waiting and waiting for you to confront a crisis, you’re giving room for doubt and mistrust to creep in, making way for competition to attract them/give more appeal. Losing loyal customers is quite damaging for a brand as lasting relationships are often what can carry a company through its lows. 


When a person finds out that someone (or a group of someones) they trusted, believed in, or loved isn’t who they thought they were, a wedge is driven into the relationship that only time and transparency can heal. A brand is the persona of a business and people carry a lot of personal thoughts and feelings about who a company is and who the people are that keep that company running. When that image is disrupted in their mind, they are looking for transparency to earn back their trust. In the response given post-conflict, whether it’s written, spoken, in an infographic, or in another format, communicate openly and clearly addressing what happened/is happening and the steps that will be taken going forward. Acknowledge, admit, apologize, and so forth. Band-aids won’t last and the brand will suffer long-term. Be transparent in your messaging to repair the wound at the root.


Though it’s important to quickly address an issue and be transparent about it, the follow up is arguably the most important element of crisis management. If a CEO writes a formal letter addressing their audience with pretty apologies and promises, it does no good without action following suit. The vitality of following through on your word is monumental to gain back the trust (thus, business) of your current, long-term/loyal, and potential customers. Through actions, show your audience that you can handle missteps in judgment or unfortunate events with immediacy, integrity, intention… and progression! 


More often than not, over-communication trumps silence in the face of adversity. Lack of communication leads to misunderstanding and misunderstanding leads to general damage in relationships. Relationships are a core part of successful business and effective branding plays on the relationships that currently exist, could exist, or previously existed. Customer retention, acquisition, and recovery heavily depend on relationship management between the brand and the customer. Communicate well to preserve this carefully!


When a kid messes up, you teach it to sit still, look inward, and think on what they did wrong. Your hope here is for them to come up with methods of improvement and revisions that will lead them down a better road next time. In the same regard, it’s important for a company to reflect and revise post-conflict so that they can smooth out the kinks for their customers and themselves going forward. Reflecting and revising is growth played out and growth is (usually) every company’s goal. 


If you don’t currently have an agency or team of people that can offer brand consulting, look no further! We’re here and happy to help. Regardless of who you have or who you choose, we encourage you to invest in constructing a thorough plan for proper communication before conflict arises. Contact us to get started!

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