“It takes many good deeds to build a good reputation. And only one bad one to lose it” – Benjamin Franklin
For big and successful businesses, brand reputation means everything. And when your brand becomes a household name, even the slightest slip up can lead to a spiraling negative reaction initiated by competitors and brand haters.
This is called an anti-branding initiative.
What is Anti-Branding?
According to BrandBa, Anti-branding is a movement created by people who disapprove of a company’s action or disapprove of a brand’s principles and values.
“Anti-branding is global movement against brands formed by large number of society members in order to spread the word of disapproval and dissatisfaction of corporate actions (Holt, 2002, pp.70). Such movements where present even before the online social media took place. Technological improvements, consumer empowerment, and ability to interact through online platforms allowed to transfer such activities into anti-brand web sites with specific focus on targeted brands (Bailey, 2004). “
Thanks to the rise of social media and other social platforms, it has become very easy for brand-haters, competitors, and other consumers to spread negative word of mouth to people and swaying their opinion against a certain brand, making anti-branding initiatives a strong tool that can make or break brands and company images.
Negative action = Ruined reputation
When your brand becomes a regular household name, like “Samsung” or “Razer” (for all the techies and gamers out there) your brand becomes an icon that consumers look up to and your company’s principle becomes a part of your brand’s value.
So when news breaks out that your company or brand is doing something bad or against your company’s values, even though it was just an accident, people will be quick to judge your brand’s authenticity and values which competitors could use against you and bring your brand down.
How To Fight Against An Anti-Branding Initiative
For big and successful brands, anti-branding is like a kryptonite: it sucks their power to keep loyal followers and could fully destroy their image, no matter how strong or well-built it is.
There are, however, ways to avoid anti-branding initiatives against your brand. And it only takes a little reputation management to avoid a total fallout of your brand’s image.
Avoid Media coverage – When an anti-branding campaign begins, it usually breaks out on a media platform where it can target a large audience and the smear campaign will pick up from there. Most damage control specialists would advise you to avoid any media coverage for a while, and just craft an official statement on the incident. This will avoid giving anti-branders more details to run their smear campaign by twisting comments made by company executives.
Accept Faults And Provide Solutions – Just like humans, people prefer to hear companies admit their faults than to deny that they have any involvement. By admitting to your faults, you ease the emotional side of consumers and push aside any negative perception they have of your company. After admitting to your fault (if there really is any on your company’s part) provide them with solutions your company is willing to take to solve the issue. This will bring back the trust of consumers to your brand and will keep loyal customers from turning away.
Show Progress – If you’ve admitted to your faults and had taken initiatives to be a part of the solution, you will have to share the progress with consumers – especially if the incident involves consumers or environmental issues. When you share your progress with your consumers, you show them how committed you are to helping solve the problem.
Saving Your Brand From Smear Campaigns
In an environment where competition is tight and competitors are looking to overtake competition through any means necessary, it’s important that you protect your brand’s reputation from any anti-branding initiative. The less anti-branding your company gets, the less chance of you losing your customers and loyal brand followers. And, in turn, better company performance.
When it comes to managing your company’s online brand image, you should always try and find the best people to handle the job. This means getting an expert SEO team to help you with brand and social media management to keep your brand image safe.