The issue boils down to: most brands focus on global issues that have already surfaced. Without looking ahead, they neglect to see problems that can come to fruition and can return to bite them in the long run.
That’s why technology like real-time media monitoring is so important — it keeps brands ahead of any potential looming crisis inspired by external factors. Brands can detect, analyze, and respond to any potential impending issue before it emerges and damages their reputation.
But what global issues have we seen lately? And how are brands handling their emergence? Let’s take a look.
Diversity Equity, and Inclusion
DEI, or Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, has been politicized on both the left and right, forcing brands to clarify where they stand. Do they embrace the idea of a more inclusive organization, or do they reject the ideology, blaming it on “woke culture wars?”
Popular retailer Target found themselves in trouble this year after a seemingly innocent Pride Collection drop. Though the brand has carried out a pride collection for decades, this year they failed to anticipate right-wing backlash that was fomented online.
Due to social media’s power nowadays, an influx of anti-LGBTQ+ consumers propelled the company’s “propaganda” to virality, claiming that their merchandise targeted children, and that their partnership with UK designer Erik Carnell promoted satanism.
The company’s stock tanked and Target’s reputation followed within the conservative community, but the company stayed true to their beliefs, doubling down on their commitment to supporting the LGBTQ+ community.
Could Target have foreseen this backlash? Perhaps. But it’s clear their lack of preparation for the outcome negatively, and heavily, impacted their reputation.
Brands face “woke” backlash: Crisis report 2023
Climate change is a massive threat, and many brands have attempted to alleviate this reality by rolling out more sustainable practices.
Take Patagonia, for example. The sustainability giant has always created for the greener good, but in 2022 they went even further. Founder Yvon Chouinard and his family transferred ownership of Patagonia to the newly created Patagonia Purpose Trust and the not-for-profit organization, Holdfast Collective. These two entities ensure that all of Patagonia’s profits go toward combating climate change and protecting underdeveloped land across the world.
Continuing their green strategies, the retailer is now taxing themselves: their self-imposed Earth tax, 1% for the Planet, provides support to environmental nonprofits working to defend our air, land, and water around the globe.
Patagonia’s commitment to sustainability is unquestionably one of the more impressive efforts out there, but many brands could take notes on how it positively impacted their reputation.The retailer’s ability to adapt to an ever-changing environment and actually enact change encourages consumers to see them as a trustworthy brand; a feat every company could benefit from.
Another issue we’ve seen recently are ongoing strikes around the world.
Though the WGA reached an agreement as Q3 drew to a close, their months-long strike was a testament to how powerful backlash to brands can be. The AMTMP, filled with streamers like Netflix, Hulu, Disney+, and others, all saw stock drops, lowered customer retention, and overall animosity because of their unwillingness to comply with basic union demands, tanking their already fragile reputations.
And even when SAG-AFTRA finally secures a deal, there’s no saying that the AMTMP will recover. Their very public refusal to meet worker demands for months was, well, noted by the public, and it could impact the studios’ reputation for years to come.
Reputation management is crucial for global brands to stay ahead of issues, shut them down when they arise, and have a set plan to recover from them. All it takes is one blunder, and if brands aren’t prepared, they’ll find themselves in a neverending uphill battle for redemption.
Want to learn more about how real-time media monitoring can help your brand? Check out NewsWhip Spike here.