When starting a business, the positive moments in a business’s trajectory stand out. Big numbers, loyal customers, market transformations. However, it is necessary to think that the entrepreneurial trajectory, especially when long-lasting, is also composed of moments of crisis. Noise in communication with the target audience can be responsible for the end of a business if poorly managed. Therefore, being prepared to face a moment of crisis is essential. Lucas DalfrancisCEO of Notoriousa communications company with operations in Rio Grande do Sul and São Paulo, and specialist in image crisis management, shares fundamental tips for those who run a business to face moments of crisis.
Image is different from reputation
Before creating a strategy for an adverse moment, it is necessary to understand the difference between a company’s image, reputation and brand. “Brand is the symbol, it is the identity. The image is a photograph of the moment. Sometimes, companies are going through an image crisis, not a reputation crisis. Reputation is the sum of images, photographs. We can say that reputation is the accumulation of experience. Sometimes, an accumulation of crises too”, explains Lucas about the starting point for thinking about the subject. According to the expert, the main axis of contemporary communication is reputation. “Today, We live in an era of reputation. The reputation is largely responsible for measuring the value of brands. When we talk about reputation, we are talking about an et that is completely immaterial. It’s symbolic, but still very powerful for the longevity of companies”, he guarantees.
Reputation requires strategy
A brand’s reputation is also built through communication strategies and the use of Marketing tools in order to create a successful dialogue with the target audience. “The strategy is to map the scenarios, understand what your product is, analyze the trends, do macro-environmental research and, from there, create the positioning. The value of a brand is measured based on the level of relationship it has with its customers stakeholders, with the public it captivates”, concludes the expert, highlighting the importance of this faithful relationship for times of crisis. “If the brand has a relationship with the public, an affinity, and here I am speaking on purpose, during a crisis, the People won’t defend it, but perhaps they will have much more tolerance to listen at a time when they need to bring the brand’s opinion or version. Now, when you are a liability in this relationship, when you do not have the view that reputation is a competitive et for your business, you are very exposed during a crisis. This has become much more accentuated with digital transformation”, says Lucas.
Digital age demands purpose in communication
If, before, a brand could only communicate with the public through advertising actions or press vehicles, today, its own channels, such as social networks, are important tools for creating image and reputation strategies. “Before, in communication, you were either a source, or you were totally pive in that relationship. Today, We have a society, even if anonymous, that is much more protagonist. Brands are much more exposed today and, as a result, they understand that they need to redefine themselves in products and tangible values, but much more in reputation. And this is not a new ESG discourse, it is practice. We are truly living in the era of purpose, essence, truth“, points out Lucas.
Reputation needs to be considered in companies of all sizes
When we talk about reputation, it is natural to think of big brands, which collect significant numbers. However, the expert highlights the importance of the subject permeating the agenda of entrepreneurs who are in charge of businesses of all sizes. “When we talk about reputation, everyone thinks it’s about a very valuable brand. But the truth is that, regardless of the size of the company, you need to create something and persevere with purpose. What remains in society’s memory is the essence and the truth. Reputation has everything to do with public opinion. Public opinion validates your positive image. It is shaped by a spokesperson who has a story or a cause, which relates to society”, she explains.
Embark on narratives that make sense
When thinking about communication from an image perspective, it is important to be alert to trends. Today, with the strength of social networks with increasingly rapid content and trends that change from one day to the next, you need to understand what really makes sense for your business. A recent example of this was the Barbie film, which dominated the actions of companies of different segments and sizes, generating different impacts on consumers. “In the case of Barbie, we saw a lot of positive actions and a lot of negative actions. The challenge is to understand your uniqueness in the midst of this excess. We live in a world of information overload, so you have to look for ways to be original”, advises Lucas. “Communication is not a meat grinder. It’s not in excess, it’s in relevance. And relevance needs strategic thinking”, he adds.
Understand possible business weaknesses before the crisis
At the head of a communications consultancy specialized in crisis and image management, Lucas points out that the main work, in fact, takes place before the crisis. “Crisis contingency plan work is done pre-crisis. We map and diagnose all possible crises and what the decision-making will be”, explains Lucas, providing a simple example. If you have a pastry shop, there is a series of actions that you can already understand could happen. The pastry is great, but the Delivery was delayed by a day, and the business doesn’t respond on Instagram, on iFood and doesn’t have a telephone. It’s a combo to cause a crisis, for people to start talking badly”, he considers, advising basic starting points. “The first thing is to know that you have to have a telephone number, to know what the communication is about late deliveries. What are the possibilities that encomp my universe?“, he points out.
The expert points out that, often, there are already signs before the crisis actually happens. “Image noise happens before the crisis. A crisis is when there is a trigger, a major episode. First, there is a protocol that we call anamnesis. You have to sit down and understand what really happened. Then, we started to map the impacts of this crisis: image, economic, scope”, explains Lucas about the protocols, highlighting that there are different proportions. “Sometimes, you live next to the cemetery and think that everyone is dying. Crisis management is trying to put out the fire, sometimes with a bucket, sometimes with the firefighters. And then there is the recovery work. Many times it won’t be like it was before, the scars remain“, he points out.
Reputation is an economic et
Lucas also emphasizes that understanding the importance of paying close attention to a business’s reputation means being concerned about the company’s longevity and economic sustainability. “The way the entrepreneur relates, the message that the company transmits, is not just a story, it impacts the life of the business. When you have brand advocates, dialogue with the target audience, and they adopt you as an extension of house, this has a market value. We are talking about economics. Reputation is an economic et too. Reputation management is the orchestration of communication practices. A positive image only happens when you are able to generate trust, and when you are able to generate business and new opportunities, have a true connection with your target audience”, says the expert.