Brand Damage and the loss of emotional intelligence

Andrew S - 19 th January 2014

How much time do we spend giving our brands personalities and values, talking about brand behaviours and manners as well as trying to develop human traits? 

We seek to build relationships with consumers based on loyalty and empathy but what happens when this goes catastrophically wrong? 

This very question bizarrely crashed into the front of my mind last weekend when I spent an amazing day with a great friend of mine who is recovering from a very serious brain injury. 

This may seem like a strange subject for a brand blog, but please bear with me. 

He has made incredible progress from the dark days following and last weekend this journey to recovery was the focus of our chat and banter on a highly entertaining road trip around the beautiful coast of Anglesey. 

We were talking about the stuff that hadn’t yet been fixed in his recovery and what his amazing therapists and helpers describe as a loss of emotional intelligence.  His difficulty in relating to the subtle ebbs and flows of other people’s behaviour and how his reactions impact on them sadly often negatively. 

To lighten the chat we also talked about what I was doing and the kind of things I did to “keep me off the streets” and all the usual banter between friends. 

In amongst all the mickey taking and serious conversation about what I do with brands we talked about the need to help brands reconnect with their consumers when they have lost their way. He sparked up “that sounds a bit like me…great when it’s going well but I get really confused how to react to changes around me and how to respond in the right way”. 

Boy did that get me thinking as I drove home after dropping him off. Thinking about brands that disconnect with their customers following catastrophic, often self-inflicted, damage, I began to see parallels. They seem to have suffered massive Brand Damage that impacts every aspect of their relationship with consumers. 

Restoring the brand is not impossible but it requires lots of understanding about the environment around them, a vision of what success would be, a clear pathway to recovery and, dare I say I, a load of love 

All is not lost for these damaged brands – look at the return to good fortune of Bonmarche recently where the CEO actually said that the issue was that “the brand just needed to be loved”. Consider also the return to profitability and brand stature of Jaguar Land Rover, a brand portfolio that is now cherished, loved and invested in by its sensitive Indian owners. 

My own experience helping Madame Tussauds, some 8 years ago, recover not only at its famous London home but also to go on and build a global brand, reflects the passion, love and focus for the brand by the great team at Merlin. 

I am sure that we have much as much to learn from cognitive therapy than we do from the pure P&L pressure and the City. 

As for my friend, he is making an amazing recovery supported by a wonderful wife and family, surrounded by incredible friends. It’s not all about love but it certainly helps!

Andrew is the CEO and the other founding partner of Brand Vista. With over 30 years of brand experience both on the client and agency side, what gets him up every morning is a passion for helping clients grow through building genuinely differentiated brands that deliver a customer experience that becomes irresistible.
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