External forces create number 15 of the 40 Most Common Brand Problems.
Common Brand Problem Number 15: Being attacked by special interest groups who want to make public statements about their causes and see your well-known, high profile brand as a newsworthy target
Analysis: High profile brands are prone to being knocked off their pedestals by environmental, human rights, equal rights and other activists and by anti-big business groups. Nike, Wal-Mart, and ExxonMobil have struggled with this issue, as has the Boy Scouts of America.
Nike has struggled with opposition to its campus sponsorships and concerns about its alleged use of third world “sweat shops.”
Wal-Mart is seen as all-powerful and monolithic, and is often accused of putting long-standing local “mom & pop” stores out of business through monopolistic practices. People are concerned about Wal-Mart’s alleged use of third world “sweat shops,” too.
ExxonMobil is struggling with the perception that it cares more about profits than the environment.
The Boy Scouts of America is a target because of its squeaky clean, wholesome image, and its relatively recent highlighted position on homosexuality.
Key Point: If your brand is well known, (a) identify possible exposures (through internal muckraking) and rectify them if at all possible, and (b) develop public relations and crisis management plans to address the exposures. Also, most importantly, always strive to do the right thing, maintaining integrity between who you say you are and how you behave as a brand.
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Branding Strategy Insider is a service of The Blake Project: A strategic brand consultancy specializing in Brand Research, Brand Strategy, Brand Growth and Brand Education