Friday, June 5, 2009

GM: What's Love Got To Do With It?

“What’s Brand Got To Do--got to do with it? What’s brand but a second-hand emotion?”
Oh wait….that’s Aretha and she’s supposed to be singing about love not brand!

A case for the importance of managing your brand and avoiding crisis.

It might seem odd to read a story about GM on a crisis communications blog. Most people think of a crisis as being natural disaster, pipe line explosion, plane crash, train derailment, or other sudden catastrophic event. But, based on all of the information
we’ve heard about regarding the GM story, this was a crisis in the making for years.

No pun intended – but who was steering the boat? Uh….car?

Building a brand takes years. A great brand can survive the ups and downs of a market. During tough times, brand managers can help monitor the course. When a company gest as large as GM, and for decades ignores the wishes and desires of those stakeholders most important to its business---its customers-- only one thing can happen, loss of brand equity and eventually disaster.

Now, I’m not suggesting that managing your brand will save your company and cure all ills, but a system of checks and balances, such as finding out what your customer wants and needs and then acting on those consumer desires, with senior management 100% behind the initiative, is one way to avoid a total catastrophe. Think fender bender vs. head on collision.

I mean, how long do you look at the lit up little red oil can on the dash before you realize you need to pull over right away and check your oil? Duh.

What happened at GM was that the oil light came on and they kept driving….and driving….and driving…until a shocking thing happened! Bankruptcy! The oil light came on, the car ran out of oil, and the engine went up in flames.

Oh yeah, and the brand manager was thrown under the bus…..uh, car, long, long, ago.

Don’t let managing your brand take a back seat (I promise – it’s the last one) to good business practices.

Chief Emergency Officer