How do you deal with negativity? Do you sit and cry about it? Or do you go out and respond to critics? Before you answer, you need to understand the problem and how the negativity of your brand image came about. On a Monday morning in the busy streets of Nairobi, Kenya’s capital, you will find Kimani, a small time “Mitumba” (second hand clothes) salesman, arriving at work in his elegant attire. His business has become a favorite for many in the years he has been a salesman. With his clever marketing and talkative charm, it is not a surprise that he has established a firm brand image for his mitumba business. However, there are problems or challenges that come with becoming a dominant force in the marketplace. Recently Kimani had to reckon with business sabotage at the hands of competitors who were in the business of selling brand new clothes. The issue came to Kimani’s attention when he noticed that some of his clients were pulling away from his product.
What to do? How did he make things right and restore a positive brand awareness of his product to his target market? Well, Kimani was not a beginner. He knew exactly how to deal with the situation. He had worked hard to establish a reliable and flexible brand that could conquer and weather any storm. Sure, he was in danger of losing his esteemed customers which could and would lead to business shut down if left unchecked, but not on his watch! Kimani’s had superpowers his competitors knew nothing about. He had a well established online platform where he could reach his clients at any time and he understood his clients’ language and needs in terms of affordable prices and quality mitumba wear.
Kimani’s online presence was a great platform for interaction with his clients who could air their views and comments on the quality and reliability of what he had to offer. He used this platform to manage the negative brand image of his business in the following 4 ways:
1. Know What is Moving Your Cheese
What kind of problem led to the bad image? Is it material or just negligible? Kimani investigated and found the root cause of the negative brand image before he could take the situation head on. Most issues that result from negative image come from competitors. You cannot take this too seriously if the quality of your services speaks for itself. Loyal customers will turn a deaf ear to this kind of sabotage on your image. You can choose to ignore the bad publicity and continue providing quality services to your target market. Since it was purely due to sabotage, Kimani chose to ignore the negative chitchat but used it as and opportunity to engage his customers on their views of the false alarm. You cannot however, ignore bad image as a result of an actual fault in your products or service provision. If the fault is yours, it is imperative for you to solve the issue as soon as possible and issue apologies where necessary.
2. Keep Calm and Tell the Truth
A quick response means that you are listening and attentive to customer needs. Loyal customers of Kimani’s business asked questions relating to the sudden negative image in brand awareness. He responded to their worries in time, not waiting for the gossip to fester and create a bigger problem. Kimanin politely assured people of the certainty of the quality of his products and services. Establishing a good rapport with your clients so that they can easily reach you whenever they have questions will go a long way in helping maintain a positive brand image for your business.
3. Like Water Off A Duck’s Back
Kimani kept a clear head the entire time. Are you emotional about life’s negative issues? Do you tend to take things personally? If yes, stop. It is not good for you and even worse for rebuilding your brand image. Kimani did not let his anger or emotions reflect in the statements or comments he made. You have to remain professional at all times and stay ahead of your competitors. His cool approach and refusal to play dirty even when his competitions may have deserved it, won the respect and patronage of many former customers and attracted new ones too.
4. Kiss and Tell
Have you successfully dealt with the issue? Shout it from the rooftops. Are you facing challenges in brining matters to a close? Share that carefully as well. Kimani kept his customers up-to-date on the developments of the problem and when it was solved informed the the public on how he intended to prevent such a problem from reoccurring. News spreads when a service or product provider is pro-active in problem solving and willing to engage the public in finding solutions. You can also use the opportunity to ask clients if there are any other issues of negative brand awareness that need your attention.
Kimani used these 4 ways to save his mitumba business but these tips are not limited to just business brands. They can also be used to manage a negative personal brand and restore a positive outlook of the brand of your personal image.
Want more? Head over to our small business posts for more tips on managing your small business.
Do you have additional suggestions on how you can deal with bad publicity or negative brand image for your business? Like and share your views with us, so we can grow a strong brand image together!