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Wednesday Wisdom Series: Why Organizations Should “Project the Brand,” Not “Protect the Brand”
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Here is your bi-monthly Wednesday Wisdom series from the Family Assistance
Foundation, reminding you that a fully-integrated approach for assisting survivors of
traumatic loss involves a balance of head and heart. Wednesday Wisdom is written
and copyrighted by Carolyn V. Coarsey, Ph.D. and distributed by the Family
Assistance Education & Research Foundation Inc., fafonline.org. Reprint is available
with written permission from the Foundation. 


Why Organizations Should "Project the Brand,"
Not "Protect the Brand"

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“If I take care of my character, my reputation will take care of me.”
                             Dwight L. Moody, American evangelist and publisher 1837–1899

Crisis communications experts frequently refer to corporate crises as character
defining events.  At the Foundation, our mission involves supporting companies
during such challenging scenarios, and we continue to see many companies who
excel in their commitment to taking care of survivors and families. By honoring
that commitment, they reveal the collective character of their leadership team.

Many organizations now use the phrase protect the brand to describe the
purpose of an effective response. The term has a defensive, adversarial sound
reminiscent of an old-school “us versus them” approach. Russell Goutierez, the
Foundation’s Executive Director, recently coined the phrase “project the brand” as
a more fitting way to describe the why behind a great response plan and execution.
We know a crisis is not business as usual, and as such, it’s an even more critical
time to uphold or surpass your company’s usual standard of service.

Our experience shows that the best way to protect the brand is by taking care of
those involved, who are typically helpless and dependent in a crisis. In doing
so, the company projects who they are as an organization and how they wish
to be perceived.

Following a major aviation disaster in the late 1990s, a very experienced airport
manager stated that he had never felt so much pride in his company as when
he witnessed first-hand how it responded to customers and employees alike. He
went on to say that the organization’s response caused him and numerous
employees to make an even stronger commitment in their subsequent work
for the company.  

In another example, a cruise line went above and beyond to save the life of a young
woman. She had been disembarked at one port for medical treatment that proved
inadequate. The company had another of its vessels pick her up for transport to a
better facility, where she received the needed treatment. The congregation of the
family’s church wrote numerous cards and letters to the cruise line’s management
team, praising and thanking them for this unexpected, life-saving action, which was
something no cruise line had done before.  

Companies who go the extra mile in delivering effective crisis response do much
more than protect the brand; their reputations and productivity can actually be
enhanced when the public and employees alike so clearly see the heart behind
the logo
. Since defensive behavior on the part of employees is the opposite of
the positive, proactive approach that Human Services Response™ promotes,
changing the slogan from protecting the brand to projecting the brand is
more consistent in its message to customers and employees alike.  

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Leaders in emergency and crisis response planning should work with the
corporate communications team to ensure all are attuned to even the subtleties
in the organization’s messages. We have explored here how changing one letter
can flip a message that is inconsistent with the goal of non-defensive behavior, and
thus counterproductive, to one that highlights the overall philosophy behind the
response and reminds others of the power of an effective response. 

© 2017 Higher Resources, Inc./Aviem International, Inc.
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