Along with the rest of North America, my husband and I sat captivated by Oprah‘s interview with the man who’d defied all odds and risen to unbelievable heights of success. Now he was confronting a ton of lies he told with a stoic grimness. As a brand marketing expert myself, I was intrigued by this article. I share with you some of the lessons of how to pick up the pieces when a brand screws up.
Joey Reiman, the founder and CEO of an Atlanta-based branding consultancy and author of The Story of Purpose (Wiley, 2012), thinks that story could still have a happy ending. “Lance could become Sir Lancelot if he had a greater purpose,” Reiman says. “When brands don’t operate for a purpose beyond themselves, they get into trouble.”
Tactically there are three things Lance should do to redeem himself, says Reiman.
1. Speak directly to the people. Armstrong can make a heartfelt apology while reminding people of what was admirable about him.
2. Ride for redemption. Reiman suggests a cross-country ride, stopping at hospitals and schools in every city to speak to children about cheating, lying and bullying.
3. Do an act of good faith. Armstrong should ask everyone to hand in their bracelets and offer, for each one returned, to donate an amount of money out of his own pocket to the treatment of cancer patients.
When businesses and brands screw up, they need to acknowledge, act and apologise. Memories are short when what you’re doing now is much more relevant and believable and stands for something bigger than making money.
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