Businesses, both big and small, have a brand. Whether that brand is carefully crafted by a marketing team or a determined one-person operation’s efforts, it’s your company’s invisible face. When that vision is strong, it can help your audience capture a certain feeling in association with your products or services. The focus of maintaining brand safety is keeping your business’s name out of the muck and separating it from anything that would hurt your brand’s reputation.
In order to protect your brand, you need to know what shapes its personality. The core goal is for your team to produce consistent content in line with your brand, then to be able to identify potential risks – which can be produced by your own team or by external associations.
Communicate your values
Once your brand personality is outlined, you’ll be able to recognize what aligns with your values and communicate them all to every level of your team.
- Customer service – tell your customer-facing employees how to conduct themselves while representing your business.
- Brand partnerships – figure out the criteria for the types of businesses you’d want to align with yours. When entering these partnerships, make clear to your partner how they should represent your brand in the promotions.
- Employees outside of work – know how your team would communicate or act if an employee has been shown acting in a behavior that does not align with what your brand represents – note that this is often the subject that comes up in a crisis.
Monitor and manage
All of this preparation will mean nothing if you aren’t seeing the discussion around your brand. This can be a big undertaking if you have a large brand, so using AI tools that seek out mentions across the internet while analyzing sentiment can help your team identify issues quickly. These tools are often expensive, so if they’re out of your price range, there are several things you can do instead:
- Set up Google Alerts – if there are common misspellings, include those in your alert set-up.
- Monitor social channels daily, or weekly if you have a small team. Don’t forget to check all the known channels, even ones that you don’t have a profile on, to be sure you’re capturing all the chatter.
- Within these spaces, make sure you’re following news outlets to see how your brand could potentially avoid negative exposure from content that’s coming out soon.
You don’t just have to look outwardly for threats to your brand; your approach to publishing content should ensure that it’s been closely reviewed to consider any negative connotations.
- Make sure your content team has PR knowledge – they should look at their content from a perspective of how it could be interpreted.
- Regularly audit who has access to your social channels – keep that list small to ensure someone doesn’t accidentally publish as your brand or have access when they no longer work at your company.
If lightning strikes
There are stories everywhere today about a brand getting in hot water, which can be scary for any business owner to imagine for their own company. While these situations are often stressful, the best way you can prepare is to have a crisis plan in place.
- Know your key stakeholders – this is incredibly important for larger organizations. Who are the decision makers who would need to guide the response? Make sure they know that if a crisis arises, they will be called upon to join the discussion for planning.
- Do you need support – outline the situations and the resolutions that your team can effectively handle as well as the occasions when you’d need to hire a crisis PR expert to support your response. That way your team can quickly bring help.
- Respond humbly – don’t allow yourself to lash out in anger. Take a breath, collect your thoughts, and make your address with a gracious explanation of the situation while sharing your brand’s next steps forward. Aggressive approaches are typically met with backlash, while calm and humble brand responses show that your team knows the gravity of the situation.
Being prepared is the best way to handle brand safety, but make sure the hard work you put into establishing this process is communicated to your entire staff to strengthen your presence.