How to Clean Up a Tarnished Brand Identity

Stefania Fornasier
Content Marketing Manager @ THRON

The digital economy has made the problem of brand protection and intellectual property particularly evident. Keeping the brand image coordinated, as well as its materials, has become much more complicated with the proliferation of content and, especially, of channels through which this content is distributed.

Furthermore, websites, mobile apps and newsletters are often created in partnership with external agencies that, to be operational, need to have access to these channels and handle the various content directly. But, it is right here that the fragmentation begins that makes controlling your communication impossible. And the same applies to your brand identity.

Let’s imagine that our favorite snack brand is about to promote the launch of a new product and has chosen an athlete to endorse it.

The brand produces a whole series of content in which the endorser promotes the product.

The agency entrusted with the management of the website inserts the photos of the advertising campaign on the site.

The freelancer responsible for e-commerce loads an advertising banner on each page of the online store.

The users share the ad on their social profiles.

Some time later, the endorser tests positive for doping.

At the news, the company decides to immediately distance itself from the endorser and from the scandal itself.

What strategy can the brand put into play to implement this dissociation? How long will it take to find all the content containing the athlete and remove it? How many channels will it have to search?

By the time the company gets in touch with the website and e-commerce store contacts, and tries, in vain, to trace the images and videos that have been shared, the news will already have been spread.


Let’s Apply Content Intelligence to Kinder and to the Schwazer Case

 In 2012, Kinder Pinguì’s endorser, racewalker Schwazer, was disqualified for doping at the dawn of the London Olympics.

Ferrero published a press release in which it distanced itself from the athlete. The advertisement, however, continued to be diffused on the Internet. In this case, the damage to the brand was limited because the product already had a strong reputation regardless of the representative.

But what would have happened if it had been a new snack with a very famous endorser, entrusted with making the product famous too? The risk that the product itself would have been overshadowed by the news story would have risen significantly.

The image that the brand gives of itself, but also the perception that people have of it, risks being threatened by its association with a negative concept (doping, illegality), even if the company states not to have known anything about it.

Effectively protecting the brand, its own image and its own content means having control over all those activities that are directly or indirectly linked to the brand experience. It means being able to intervene in a timely manner and on a global scale on all content (articles, photos, videos, product data sheets, etc.) that gives life to company communication.

When it is said that Content Intelligence protects the brand, it is because it allows for a centralized management of content, to which agencies can gain access, without having, however, the original copy exclusively on their computers. The brand, therefore, becomes independent and, when necessary, can manage its own content by itself.

Furthermore, thanks precisely to this centralization, the brand that needs to quickly change the images and videos that feature the athlete with their product will be able to quickly replace content without having to intervene in front-end systems.

For example, a single person at Ferrero would have sufficed to remove and replace the advertisement with Schwazer in just a few minutes.

Indeed, once the art director (or also the marketing director, as editorial manager) has replaced the content, the update will be automatic on all channels. In real time, websites and e-commerce stores will no longer present content relating to the athlete. In this way, even "incorrect" content that has been shared by users will no longer be accessible, while the corrected content will be shown in its place.

They are simple steps but not ones to be taken for granted: indeed, today, companies that adopt a Content Intelligence software are still few and far between. Those who use press releases (which still remain evergreen) to distance themselves from unpleasant situations are far more numerous. This, however, is a way to repair a problem, without allowing it to be completely solved, as the many parodies of the Pinguì ad that can still be found online today teach us.

Ensuring Brand Integrity Must Be a Constant Activity

Despite the example mentioned above, protecting a brand’s image is not something that should only be done in crisis situations. It is an important activity that should be taken care of constantly. Ensuring that the identity of their brands is always complete and consistent on any channel must be a prerogative for marketing departments. Therefore, brand content always needs to be kept under control.

Those who manage a company’s photos, videos and documents must be able to update them quickly. It is fundamental to be able to offer users, customers or otherwise, messages that are always suitable and never contradictory in terms of the brand image that people have experienced up until that moment. Are you asking yourselves if it’s worth it? It is definitely worth the credibility and authority of the brand in other people’s eyes.