Strategy

Can your brand withstand a punch in the mouth?

Michel Hogan /

While listening to the Reboot podcast, I heard a super definition of resilience. Jerry Colonna described it as “the capacity to recover when punched in the face”. It builds on the well-known quote from boxer Mike Tyson: “everyone has a plan until they get punched in the mouth”.

Can your brand result withstand that punch? Because it will happen. You get blindsided by a new competitor. There’s a problem with your product or service you didn’t anticipate. An irate customer uses the social megaphone to shame you for something they think you did or didn’t do. There’s a disaster of your own making or one hurled by nature.

Somewhere, sometime the punch will come.

The brand is a result. It can be robust and resilient, able to withstand the shot to the mouth. Or it can be fragile, with a glass jaw that will shatter at the first punch. To paraphrase Colonna’s description, the way you build the brand can give you “the capacity to recover when punched in the face”.

So, does your organisation have the ability to stand up amid setbacks, re-group and bounce back? If you’re not sure, the following seven things will help to build more resilience.

  1. Find what’s most important to you and what you believe. A sturdy enduring identity provides a foundation you can call on in any situation. Good and bad. Expected and unexpected.
  2. Use that identity across everything you do and say you do, and fix any gaps you find between the two so you don’t inadvertently trip and fall. Or if inevitable cracks appear (because we’re humans, not robots), they’re not gaping chasms you have to try and cross.
  3. Be conscious of the competitive landscape and what others are doing but don’t let it dictate what direction you take. When you keep what’s most important front and centre you’re fighting on your terms. (See #5). 
  4. Focus on the customer but not at the expense of other people who also have a stake — employees, partners, suppliers and others. Your whole team is what gives you the capacity to recover. And, the time to build the relationships you’ll need is before you get punched. Yes, you’ll need customers to keep believing. You’ll also need employees to keep delivering, partners to keep supporting, and suppliers to keep providing. (To learn more about the employee and customer experience loop, click here). 
  5. Evolve your practices, principles, products and services, but never lose sight of your identity and what’s most important to you. Stay loose, keep your feet moving and your core strong. Or as described by management author and teacher Jim Collins, “preserve the core and stimulate progress”.
  6. Be deliberate about the promises you make and then move heaven and earth to keep them (see #2). They are your plan for the future so make sure you can do them. Think about the investment of resources they will require. Look at the rewards, but also assess the risk involved and put that in the equation. Don’t take your promises lightly. Not keeping a promise is the punch you won’t see coming until you’re flat on your ass on the mat.
  7. Own your mistakes. We’re human, screw-ups will happen. Don’t pass the blame. Say you’re sorry (and mean it) and do your best to fix it. Resilience is just the capacity to withstand the punch. It’s how you bounce back afterwards.

To recap, my recipe for building a robust and resilient brand result is: know your identity; use it actively to shape what you do; stay aware of your environment and keep focused on what’s most important; pay attention to all stakeholders; keep evolving; only make promises you can keep. And step into the punch when you make a mistake.

See you next week.

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Michel Hogan

Michel Hogan is an independent brand thinker and adviser dedicated to helping you make promises you can keep and keep the promises you make — with a strong, resilient organisation and brand as the result. You can find Michel at michelhogan.com.

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