We all know about common brand dangers like product failures, especially those resulting in an injury to a customer or employee. We face other brand dangers like a poor-performing marketing campaign or highly visible customer complaints. We plan for them and we’re ready to put our plan into action if we’ve done our contingency planning right. But, there are less common brand dangers out there that we might never consider until it’s too late. That’s our topic for today.
With the high-profile problems faced by MGM and Caesar’s Palace over the last few weeks, cybersecurity moved into first place on our list today. Sure, the lost revenue is an immediate concern after hackers installed ransomware that locked guests out of their rooms, stopped almost all the casino games, and kept management from checking guests in or accepting reservations. Paying the ransom will run into the tens of millions of dollars. These are short-term losses and, while they may represent a serious hit to the bottom line for this quarter, it’s the long-term branding problem that can cause a serious decline in profits into the future.
Guests worried about the security of their credit cards and other personal information may stay away from the properties and spread negative word-of-mouth about the brand for a long time. Images of the crowded lobby and slot machines flashing the offline sign will make future gamblers think twice about booking on the property. Moreover, the damage might extend to Los Vegas to cause fewer bookings at all the casinos since guests are warry after the casino hack. That will trickle down to restaurants, entertainment venues, and other tourist attractions that rely on tourism from the casinos to make payroll.
The former cybersecurity czar during the Trump administration said most companies don’t have sufficient processes and deterrents in place to keep out cyber thieves and other bad actors. At a minimum, you should train employees to help protect your data as most thieves enter your system by tricking an employee to reveal sensitive information like passwords. Also, keep your software updated as most updates include stronger security. Then, consider hiring a company to assess your vulnerability and provide solutions that reduce those vulnerabilities.
Supply chain disruption
As we saw at the end of the pandemic, disruption of supply chains creates pressure on pricing that may force companies to raise prices or absorb the increased cost of the things they need to remain in business. The most serious supply chain disruption is raw materials and finished goods. With little to no product to sell, revenue drops to 0. If supply chain issues disrupt entire industries or the economy as a whole, the company can probably survive the bad press and lost revenue but when your company faces a supply chain problem you can lose customers forever.
For instance, I interviewed a small business owner who ran a 3rd generation business. He faced a strike by the manufacturer that supplied his chips. Since the company commonly sold a package of a protein, chips, and a drink (they didn’t sell french fries), the loss of their chip supplier for more than a few days might drive customers to a competitor and regaining lost business is always a crap shoot as customers lower their impression of the brand or find the alternative appealing. Luckily, his chip supplier anticipated the strike and made other arrangements for his business from another supplier so didn’t have a supply issue. This action bound him even tighter to the chip supplier so he resumed his business arrangement once the plant was back online.
Having your business broken into can seem like the very worst possible thing that could happen. After all, it’s likely to cost your company a great deal of money to rectify, repair, and replace anything destroyed or broken by the intruders. But, did you consider the cost to your brand reputation when publicity spreads about the break-in, especially if there were customers in the building at the time?
Avoiding the threat involves using deterrents that make thieves think twice before breaking in or encouraging them to attack a less well-protected business. Make changes that reduce the likelihood of future incidents. The good news is there are several strategies you can use to do this.
Hiring a capable commercial locksmith to install locks for your building that keep out thieves is another low-cost means to reduce the chances of a break-in.
Next, install CCTV cameras which not only can help catch any perpetrators of a break-in if it happens, but also by their very existence deter intruders from trying their luck on your premises as well. Indeed, the best way to do this is to advertise with stickers on your windows and doors that you have active CCTV cameras. It’s also a good idea to have cameras pointing at any outside entry points into your premises such as doors and windows, in addition to fitting indoor cameras as well. You can even get cameras that allow you to check your property on your smartphone 24/7 so you can have peace of mind that your business is safe at all hours of the day.
Finally, consider other theft deterrents such as alarms that immediately notify the police or local sheriff if the building is breached. Limit the amount of cash kept on the premises by storing excess cash in a safe or depositing it in the bank at regular intervals. Reduce the inventory available to thieves by locking it up.
Legal and regulatory compliance
Ignoring or failing to comply with industry-specific regulations and legal requirements can lead to fines and reputational damage. To avoid these problems, ensure you stay abreast of all legal and regulatory issues that affect your business and monitor agencies that govern your industry to anticipate new regulations.
Take the further step by operating your business in an ethical manner and work with other businesses in your industry to encourage them to do the same. Many new laws and regulations that impact an industry come based on consumer complaints about being treated poorly. For instance, new laws requiring compensation for travelers inconvenienced by travel disruptions caused by the airline came because airlines ignored the rights of passengers to reach their destination in a timely manner for decades and capriciously canceled or delayed flights for low passenger levels, poor planning, and poor plane maintenance.
Poor crisis management
How you handle a crisis can determine its impact on your brand. Poor crisis management, including delayed responses or inadequate communication, can escalate issues and damage your reputation further.
A good example comes from Club Med. A group of passengers were traveling to the property on a chartered jet operated by another company but purchased as a package with their hotel. The flight was seriously delayed and, when it did take off, was short on the number of meals needed to meet passenger needs. Discomfort grew into anger that led attorneys on board to begin collecting names for a class action lawsuit against the property. Word got back to the manager while the flight was still in the air. He immediately jumped into action, assembling a fleet of limousines to ferry passengers to the property and organizing a band and food to meet them at the airport. Instead of pointing fingers at a separate company that caused the problem, he solved it; putting his customers first.
By the end of the vacation, the lawsuit evaporated and many guests reported the adventure as their best vacation experience.
Companies face these less common brand dangers and should act proactively to avoid the problems that lead to these dangers to brand reputation.
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