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Pop your brand out of a hell-hole with these 10 steps.

For your brand, the bottom looks like up. It’s third tier in a consolidating world where three-down is nowhere. Or, it boo-booed its way out of the hearts and minds of customers. You get that sinking feeling: like you and your brand are in steerage on the Titanic.

I’ve observed this situation and lived it. Is it a miserable existence? Well, it doesn’t have to be. When the right things happen, climbing out of a hole can be one step away from running away with the hearts and minds of customers – all the way to the bank.

Brands can fall into an abyss when they’re complacent, over-confident,  shortsighted or blindsided. It can happen if all a brand relies on is price in a defensive strategy. It can be a trip-and-fall from losing touch with the customer, like making errors or penning policies that cost the channel money. Regardless, it’s fix or fail and…you’ve been hired to fix.

No pretenses here. This post won’t solve your problem in detail. But it may help. Here’s a checklist of 10 things you should think about when you need to make chicken soup out of that other stuff.

  1. Assess the strength of your troubled brand. It may have more equity than you know and that can provide a firm foundation for change, even if you don’t yet know the change necessary.
  2. Face the facts with brutal honesty. Leave the honey in the cupboard and assess the situation with all the emotion of an IRS agent. Err to the downside and develop the situational analysis accordingly.
  3. Without imperiling the company/brand, address the situation with key stakeholders, which could also be customers, even if you don’t have answers to all the questions or solutions to all the problems. Do commit to working on the problem(s) and live up to the commitment.
  4. When possible make customers part of the solution. Express your care for the customer; demonstrate understanding and empathy. Show that you have calculated the impact on them and that you’re at work on righting it.
  5. Besides being brutally honest, be clear and consistent (Volkswagen has been neither and is paying the price.). If you need to change direction, then explain why clearly.
  6. Base the solution on what you need to do to alleviate the pressure and elevate the brand’s position. Be cautious for starry eyes; do only what you can achieve realistically. Apply the same brutal honesty to your solution for climbing out of the hole as you did for understanding why you got there in the first place.
  7. Announce the solution and implementation plan only when you are absolutely certain you can deliver on the promises and when you are assured a commitment from leaders, the board of directors, etc.
  8. Execute the plan as flawlessly as possible. If something gets messed up…‘fess up and fix up. Never preach perfection; remember that Murphy’s Law has not been repealed.
  9. In developing your solution plan, make sure you include metrics. Whether it’s measuring the number of complaints or compliments, distributor conversions, unique website visits, or NPS, make sure you attach some kind of relevant KPIs and report on them regularly to all stakeholders.
  10. If leaders aren’t in, you’re out. Business and brand leadership must not only be on board, they must also be vocal supporters and active participants. When the shades are down in the corner office, employees and customers become skeptics.

Clearly, this isn’t an instant springboard out of the pits. Or, everything needed to address a big issue. At the very least, it’s a thought starter. Another thought: use our Brand as Friend model to brainstorm solution plans and build better relationships between brands and customers. We can help with that. Ya dig?