Why saying ‘sorry’ is such an underrated brand strategy

The Power of a Brand Apology

There’s something about politics and brand management that creates a powerful aversion to apologising. There may have been a time when if a company did something wrong, the best policy was denial and steamroll at full speed until the problem has been squashed-flat or left behind in the dust. But those times are well gone.

Today, organisational mistakes – especially those that cause distress or frustration to consumers and business customers – hit social media with the magnetic attraction of a supermodel at a bucks party. But even given the new world of almost instant mass awareness, when many company’s stuff-up, they still try almost everything before apologising.

The thing about brand relationships (B2B and B2C) is that they are pretty much like any other kind of relationship. If someone makes a mistake in the real world, we most definitely want them to apologise, take responsibility and fix it. The speed, openness and transparency with which a person approaches the task of ‘making good’ directly correlates to how we feel about them.

So when European-based, online payment platform Revolut hit a technical snag last week frustrating their customers, their approach to resolving this challenge to brand satisfaction and loyalty was a breath of fresh air.

Brand strategy

The most fascinating thing about an open and unreserved apology is that from a brand perspective the moment you apply this strategy, management of the issue becomes more simple. As in life, avoiding an apology for brands creates an ongoing plethora of headaches for brand owners, managers and marketers. The catch with the strategy of apologising and making-good is that the owners of the business need to be truly committed to doing the right thing.

The brand benefits of doing the right thing

Over the last year in Australia we’ve seen the employment practices of a number of large national businesses come under deserved scrutiny. It turns-out a number of retail chains including 7-11, Dominoes Pizza and Grill’d Burgers have been underpaying their staff to the tune of millions of dollars for several years. The approach taken by each business has been significantly different with 7-11 taking an immediate apologise and fix the problem no matter the expense approach whilst others have implemented a ‘lip service, duck and weave’ strategy. In the long-run, the 7-11 brand and business will reap the benefits of the initial pain, but beyond the external reputational benefits, they have also reinforced that when push comes to shove they live their values. Whilst there would be few in the business proud of the staff payment issue they have had to deal with, many will feel good about working for a business that took the right approach to resolving the issue.

Dave Ansett
David is the founder of Truly Deeply, a brand agency with 25 years experience working with brands to position them for growth. His deep expertise is in the creation of high engagement brands that attract the attention of their audience and stand out from their competitors. David has extensive experience working with corporate, retail, food & beverage and entrepreneurial clients. Find out more here
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You can read the entire apology article from Revolut here.

Pic courtesy Revolut.

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