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When Brands F-Up…do You Stay Loyal?

Recently, 3.6 million people watched a USA influencer cut up her $1,500 Balenciaga bag in protest of the brand’s latest misdeeds. 

If you’re unfamiliar with the latest scandal, Spanish luxury fashion brand Balenciaga released digital ads that showed young children holding plush bears in bondage gear.  

As soon as the ads went live, #cancelBalenciaga started trending across social media condoning pedophilia and child exploitation. The company took swift action and took down all ads, but the damage had already been done. Top celebrities that had once celebrated the brand, distanced themselves immediately and publicly shamed the label.

In layman’s terms, #CancelCulture is ignoring brands, celebrities, or public figures that have done something that the public finds offensive. A public backlash, often fuelled by social media, ensues. In the age of social media, the cancel culture is alive and well as people turn to platforms such as TikTok and Instagram to vent their frustrations and watch others vent. 

So, when a brand or company f#cks up, do you stay loyal and support them? Or is it time to break-up, for good?

Trust, the Ultimate Currency

83% of us would refer a brand/business to a friend if we trust it. Trust gains positive word of mouth, builds loyalty and gains repeat purchases.  

For brands/ companies brand perception is everything.

If consumers begin to think you are putting profit before common sense, negative feelings creep in and the level of trust towards the brand/ company lowers. This is incredibly difficult to turn around. And, if the brand continues to abuse or violate its consumers trust, revenue is impacted and consumers begin to exit/ switch to a competitor.

So, how do you build trust with your customers?

  • Be authentic, genuine and approachable when you speak to your customers
  • Ensure transparency 
  • Every client should be treated equally
  • Ensure your brand becomes an experience 
  • Take client feedback seriously and act quickly!
  • Excellent customer service is critical – everytime!

Culture Is Key

Revaluate the culture of the company. Spend time on market research and gain an understanding of your audience, the world around you, your values, and what you and your employees stand for.

Be clear and document your company’s purpose and ethos. Focus on building brand loyalty and ensuring your company’s values align with its audience. 

Remember, whilst you may have had an external f*ck up, you need to focus on your staff too & avoid turnover and “quiet quitting”. During this time, send out an anonymous employee survey and find out what people are really thinking?  

Make quick systematic changes to address any issues brought up and keep an open line of communication, via HR, with employees and check in with them regularly. 

Do NOT Repeat

Every company and its leaders will make mistakes. It’s how the issue is acknowledged and communicated by the brand to its consumers, that will make or break its survival.

  • Acknowledge the mistake – communicate with transparency and truth
  • Lead the people involved 
  • Fix the problem & find a way to move forward!
  • Apologise and mean it!

Most brands survive being #canceled. While it might not be an easy situation to find yourself in, take swift affection, stay humble, educate yourself, and continue to make improvements. 


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