brand reliability

Generally, we all strive to put our best face forward in all things, particularly as they relate to our businesses. But what happens when you or your employees make a genuine mistake? Or when previous errors come back to haunt you? Don’t sweat it because sometimes putting your missteps front and center can actually help increase positive perception and brand reliability in the eyes of consumers.

You might protest that showcasing your business’s flaws or errors might seem like an odd way to go about winning hearts and minds. Don’t people want to work with brands they can trust not to make mistakes?

Brand Reliability: Nobody’s Perfect

Instead of making your business look silly or even dangerous to work with, admitting to your mistakes and owning up to how you fixed them can make you seem more trustworthy, not less: by admitting your mistakes, potential customers know that you are unlikely to give them the run-around if something doesn’t work as expected. A little humility upfront certainly goes a long way.

PR Nightmares

You and your employees are only human, as this potential Red Cross Twitter disaster shows. However, it was quickly nipped in the bud and didn’t seem to have much of an effect on the Red Cross brand. Neither did the negative Tweet that the Chrysler social media manager posted – although the manager in question did get fired.

Perhaps one of the most recent examples of a major brand making a mistake (and having a PR crisis) is Chipotle and the e.Coli and Norovirus outbreaks linked to their eateries. While they’ve begun to take steps to address the issue and reassure their customers that it is safe to eat there via direct and well-publicized employee training, they should take a lesson from Jack in the Box when the California chain had similar problems. Use humor, re-brand a bit, and consider introducing some new items to distract customers. And while your business (and most companies) lack the resources of a fast food giant, you can learn from their strategies when you make a mistake – apologize, show how you plan to institute positive changes, use tasteful humor, and deflect.

Opting To Share Your Perspective

So there are a few errors out there as part of your brand’s story. Now’s your chance to retell them in your own words – this is especially important if a client or competitor posted something negative about your brand that’s popping up in the search results or even as part of the actual news cycle.

Besides, sometimes bad publicity can be good simply because it stimulates product awareness. The public’s initial negative perception may take a while to dissipate, but at least now people know your company or brand’s name. For example, after the movie Borat came out and essentially mocked everything about Kazakhstan, the former Soviet Republic saw a 300% increase in requests for information about the country – shocking when you consider it was largely unknown in the west.

The lesson? You can almost always put a positive spin on a bad situation, even when it is out of your control like negative feedback or bad press.

Inspire Others First By Helping Them Learn From Your Mistakes

“Show and tell” isn’t just for elementary school – it most definitely applies to content marketing. Sometimes pulling back the curtain and showing how you achieved a particular set of results can be just as compelling as a more standard case study. Besides, we’ve all read a million of those and they are not that different.

That said, go read small business owner Marcus Sheridan’s story about creating content that answers questions users are already asking (about pools, spas, and outdoor water features for private homes) and tell me you’re not inspired to start delving into your search keywords and Google’s keyword planner for some killer new content ideas. He shared his journey to success, and you can too – mistakes, screw-ups, warts and all.

Embarrassing Moments

One thing that makes us all human is the fact that we can and do get embarrassed from time to time, and while that’s certainly uncomfortable, it’s also hardly the end of the world. In fact, posting about cringe-worthy moments like your awful elevator pitch videos from back in the day, outtakes from photo shoots, the time a customer called you out, etc. can even be endearing. Remember that most people can identify with moments of awkwardness or dorkiness – it makes them feel at home with you and your team.

Besides, if there are any truly regrettable videos or posts out there, you might as well own up to them yourself (unless it is a sex tape or similar, and you’re in that kind of industry – we can’t help you there). Getting out in front of past mistakes lets you develop new business from a more positive, accurate place.

It is essential to remember that at the end of the day, nearly any marketer or business owner can craft a slick presentation or build a pretty website – but no one else can tell your brand’s unique story and show how you got to where you are today. It might take heart, guts, and a little bit of hand-holding to put it out there, but your openness and honesty will be rewarded.

Do you want 2016 to be the year you take bold steps to tell your story and promote your brand’s content in a flexible, disruptive, and constantly evolving fashion? Let the experts at Novation Consulting set you on the right path with rebranding, visual, content marketing strategies, and more.

Author Sana Tayeb

As the Co-founder and Creative Director of Novation, Sana Tayeb helps organizations emerge to dominate their industries through digital marketing and fully integrated branding campaigns. Her core strategy for small business marketing is to blend creative problem solving with an analytic approach. The result is a brand strategy that spurs growth.

More posts by Sana Tayeb