As perfect as your business or brand may be, there could be a time where you need to apologize in a huge way. The reputation and integrity of your brand can be instantly ruined within a matter of seconds, especially with the power of social media. The most successful brands have a plan in place for tackling these situations before they even occur. With a plan, you ensure a strategy is in place in order to tend to a situation with care and timeliness.
Typically, it can take businesses up to a year or more to recover from an ethical mistake, which could potentially result in a lack of brand trust and a major decline in sales. For example, if you listened to episode 20 of The Label Podcast last week, we talked about Gucci sales declining for the fourth quarter in a row due to a racial controversy that took place at the top of 2019. Just to give you a quick recap:
- Gucci sold a sweater ($890.00) online and in stores which many people felt was representative of blackface.
- Gucci released the following: statement: “Gucci deeply apologizes for the offense caused by the wool balaclava jumper,” the company said in a statement late Wednesday. “We consider diversity to be a fundamental value to be fully upheld, respected, and at the forefront of every decision we make.”
- Gucci discontinued the sweater.
- Influencers and celebrities released statements on social media about their dissatisfaction with Gucci’s tasteless mishap. Rapper T.I mentioned the following to his 11 Million followers via Instagram:
View this post on Instagram
@gucci As a 7 figure/yr customer & long time supporter of your brand I must say…Y’all GOT US fucked UP!!! APOLOGY NOT ACCEPTED!!!! We ain’t going for this “oops my bad I didn’t mean to be racist and disrespectful towards your people” shit!!! Y’all knew wtf y’all was doin and WE AINT GOING FOR IT!!! We ALL GOTTA Stop buying,wearing,and supporting this piece of shit company And ALL PIECE OF SHIT COMPANIES UNTIL THEY LEARN TO RESPECT OUR DOLLARS & VALUE OUR BUSINESS!!!! Our culture RUNS THIS SHIT!!! We (People of color) spend $1.25 TRILLION/year (but are the least respected and the least included)and if we stop buying ANYTHING they MUST correct any and ALL of our concerns. That’s THE ONLY WAY we can get some RESPECT PUT ON OUR NAME!!!! I Don’t Give a Fuck if I gotta wear Target brand shit…. #FuckGucci
- Gucci reported its earnings and well . . . see for yourself.
View this post on Instagram
@wsj published this article about @gucci & the decline their stock experienced in America due to their inability to properly rectify their disrespect to our people & our heritage wit that racist ass sweater. As I read it I further realized 2 things…. 1.That no matter how big, fancy or illustrious these brands and corporations may be… THEY AINT SHIT WITHOUT US & OUR CULTURE‼️ Also I thought to myself & now I’ll share my thought with you guys just imagine what we could do IF we REALLY stuck together 🤔‼️ We could bring any corporation (or candidate) to it’s knees and MAKE THEM RESPECT US…WE CAN FORCE THEM TO VALUE OUR LIVES, CULTURE, & OUR HERITAGE IF WE JUST STAYED SOLID…IF WE WERE TO UNITE & STAND UP TOGETHER AGAINST ANYONE OR ANYTHING THAT OPPOSES US WE’D TRULY BE UNSTOPPABLE ‼️ In closing I’ll remind you all of your POWER…& ask you to remember… that it ain’t what’s on ya, it’s what’s in ya that truly matters when ya get through…,That’s all I wanted to say…thx for reading. #USorELSE✊🏽 #ExpediTIously *swipe and read please
If something along the lines of Gucci’s misfortune happens to your own business or brand, you will need to have the right tools in place to problem solve. Here are 5 ways to save the integrity of your brand after an ethical upset:
Acknowledge The Problem And Act Quick
If you have done something to offend your consumer or a specific community, you need to do your research and understand why it is wrong. You and your team will need to be able to acknowledge why it is wrong and be prepared to apologize quickly. Nobody should have to wait for an apology from you if they feel violated or wronged. Many people also equate silence to carelessness, and that’s the last thing you want anyone to think, especially after already feeling like you were negligent.
Your apology should happen no more than 24 hours after the incident occurs. If you leave too much time between the incident and apology it could also feel careless. Not only that, but a lot of damage can happen to the reputation of your company within only a matter of hours. Be sure you are executing an apology as soon as possible.
Do NOT Make Any Justifications Or Excuses
If you decide to apologize, you need to mean it. Nobody wants to hear an excuse as to why something happened; because at the end of the day, you were wrong. For example, last year Kendal Jenner did a campaign with Pepsi, where Pepsi glorified mass protests’ of millennials. In the commercial, Kendal Jenner made everything better by handing a police officer a Pepsi can. If you have time, check out the video below.
Pepsi released the following apology:
“Pepsi was trying to project a global message of unity, peace and understanding. Clearly we missed the mark, and we apologize. We did not intend to make light of any serious issue. We are removing the content and halting any further rollout. We also apologize for putting Kendall Jenner in this position.”
By saying “we did not intend”, this apology seems insincere and insensitive. It was actually unnecessary for Pepsi to include at all. Just apologize and don’t feel like you need to provide an excuse as to why you did something. In most cases, less is more.
Use Social Media To Apologize
Nowadays, people look to a brands social media pages to find announcements along with pertinent information. Although it may seem pretty informal to apologize on social media, don’t shy away from it. It is the best way to reach your audiences and people will likely be looking for your apology on your social platforms.
Hire A Diverse Team Or a Diversity Rep
A good solution to preventing things like this from happening is to hire a diverse team of employees. When you have a diverse team, inappropriate things are less likely to slip through the cracks. If an incident happens before you are able to hire a diverse team, a good solution to your problem would be to actually hire a diversity rep and let the consumer know that you have done so. It shows how you are trying to prevent another incident from happening in the future.
Find Out How You Can Make It Up
Going through a crisis like this can cause a huge downturn in sales. The next step will be to figure out how you can incentivize people to continue to invest in your brand. Can you offer a discount for a product or service that you offer? If so, now is the time to offer that. You will find that airlines, like Southwest Airlines, do this often. If you had a miserable experience, they will typically offer a travel voucher or credit to your flight. It doesn’t completely resolve the experience, but definitely makes it a hell of a lot better.
These are just a few tips on how to prepare for a crisis if you ever need. Creative Label offers full-service crisis management in our public relations department. Please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.