Brand Turnaround: How Brands Gone Bad Returned to Glory and the 7 Game Changers that Made the Difference

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No brand is immune to crisis.


“A brand isn’t just what you say—it’s what you do. Post understands that and fearlessly shines a light on what actions can make a difference.”
—Seth Godin, author of We Are All Weird

“Karen Post is more than merely a game changer, she creates the rules for winning every time with a 1.000 batting average, no mean feat. Brand ...

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Brand Turnaround: How Brands Gone Bad Returned to Glory and the 7 Game Changers that Made the Difference

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No brand is immune to crisis.


“A brand isn’t just what you say—it’s what you do. Post understands that and fearlessly shines a light on what actions can make a difference.”
—Seth Godin, author of We Are All Weird

“Karen Post is more than merely a game changer, she creates the rules for winning every time with a 1.000 batting average, no mean feat. Brand Turnaround will completely reverse your field and create the home team advantage every time.”
—Alan Weiss, Ph.D., author of Million Dollar Consulting and The Consulting Bible

“I hate to tell you—it can happen for any company: a brand disaster. Karen Post explores what a brand catastrophe means and, most important, how to survive when it strikes. Brand Turnaround is a great life jacket for every company preparing for the unavoidable disaster before it strikes.”
—Martin Lindstrom, bestselling author of Brandwashed

“Karen Post provides great lessons, not only for entrepreneurs, but for all of us as we build our own personal brands. Brand Turnaround is a must-read for all ‘students’ of entrepreneurship.”
—Rebecca J. White, Ph.D., James Walter Distinguished Chair of Entrepreneurship; professor and director, University of Tampa Entrepreneurship Center

“What separates GREAT brands from the sea of others is that they embrace failure and learn from their mistakes. Brand Turnaround embraces this philosophy and offers insightful, practical, and relevant advice on how to leverage the lessons of failure and turn them into moments of learning and ultimate competitive advantage.”
—Julie Cottineau, VP, Brand, Virgin USA, and founder,

“An amazing book, chock full of quickly read, easily understood, and immediately actionable ideas to turn around brands.”
—James Belasco, Ph.D., author, professor, and entrepreneur

About the Book:

Ford, Xerox, and Domino’s. Each of these high-profile brands faced a widely publicized meltdown that threatened to put them out of business—and each one is going strong today. Why? They took charge with conviction, creativity, and smarts.

Brand Turnaround examines these and other brands—big and small—to prove that with the right plan and leadership any brand can recover. Karen Post, a leading expert on branding, provides practical insight and methods you can use to transform your brand when it seems the world is crashing down around it.

Post has researched the brand-recovery strategies from a diverse mix of more than 75 brands—from Ford, JetBlue, and the Red Cross to Robert Downey, Jr., Arianna Huffington, Michael Vick, and Martha Stewart. She details the brand-damaging events and examines the steps each brand took to return to glory—then applies the best practices into a powerful, seven-step process you can use to keep your brand moving forward through any storm:

#1: Take Responsibility

#2: Never Give Up

#3: Lead Strong

#4: Stay Relevant

#5: Keep Improving

#6: Build Equity

#7: Own Your Distinction

Brand Turnaround has the tools you need to develop a game plan within hours of the incident to prevent the problem from spreading; to create a company culture designed to handle situations quickly and effectively; and to manage emotions during the toughest days.

Scandals. Recalls. Natural disasters. Major and minor crises are daily events in today’s world of business. Don’t get caught blindsided when it’s your turn. Whether you run a family business or sit on the board for a major corporation, Brand Turnaround has everything you need to prepare your organization now—and keep customer loyalty and profitability rolling through any future challenges.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780071775281
  • Publisher: McGraw-Hill Professional Publishing
  • Publication date: 12/16/2011
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 264
  • Product dimensions: 6.20 (w) x 9.10 (h) x 1.10 (d)

Meet the Author

Karen Post is a branding/marketing authority and professional speaker known as The Branding Diva®. She is also president of Brain Tattoo Branding, a company that provides strategic planning and creative services to build brands.

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Read an Excerpt




The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.

Copyright © 2012Karen Post
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-0-07-177528-1



Mission Possible: Brands Can Turn Around

From brutal breakdowns to big, bad bumps, even the most troubled brands can get back to being on top, do a three-sixty, and turnaround. All of the brands featured in this book were once at the top of their game and then something happened. They fell from grace and lost some of their brand mojo. Faced with challenges, they figured out how to rally back. They rebuilt healthy connections and relationships with their core markets, which enabled their return to glory.

It's obvious that top brands offer meaningful advantages for their stakeholders. Whether yours is a commercial, individual, cause or nonprofit, or destination brand, being a well-regarded brand translates into some or all of the following benefits:

* Loyalty. Few or no defections from customers, investors, employees, or partners

* Trust and confidence. Less risk to buyers

* Ambassadors. Enthusiastic advocates and torch carriers singing the brand's praises

* Protective shield. Greater willingness to forgive and pardon missteps

* Premium investment and price. Perception of an added layer of value and justification of a higher price

* Opportunities and extensions. Natural and easier entrée into new areas

Yet there are times when none of these factors can protect a brand from falling from grace. Sometimes the problem with the brand is something the company should have been aware of but wasn't—that is, until the error was discovered by the competition. That is what happened to Persil Power, a popular laundry detergent sold under different names throughout Europe. In early 1994, Unilever introduced Persil Power with a bang and a substantial ad campaign. Within months, Unilever's archrival, Procter & Gamble (P&G), discovered that dark dyes in certain fabrics reacted badly to an ingredient used in Persil Power. In March, P&G privately warned Unilever of the problem, and Unilever ignored P&G's warning, perhaps because its own testing over the previous two years had not uncovered the problem. P&G went public with the claim. The whole affair was most famously symbolized by a pair of chewed-up boxer shorts allegedly ravaged by Persil Power. In late 1994, Unilever admitted that it had made a mistake.

Sometimes the problem is something that should have been foreseen but wasn't; perhaps how a product is made. For example, in 1997, a New York Times article exposed oppressive working conditions and the presence of carcinogenic materials in Nike's factories in Vietnam. The report was based on a report Nike had commissioned that was leaked to the Times. Nike responded that they had carried out an "action plan" to improve conditions and that its internal system worked in uncovering the problem. Later, Nike came under fire for using child labor in Pakistan and Cambodia also. Protests from student groups followed. In 2001, Nike admitted its responsibility.

Branding Recovery: A Full-Cycle Journey

When brands go bad, they often cycle through the following phases.

Phase 1: Brand-shaking Event or Events

Something happens, either through internal or external means, that causes a market shift, changing the brand's score from high and loved to low and questionable.

Phase 2: Market Reaction and the Brand's Reply

As a result, the environment suddenly changes and the market reacts negatively. Public opinion, once positive, turns hostile; popularity wanes or disappears; advocates and ambassadors no longer spread the word; and positive buzz evaporates. Now, these things happen to the brand:

* It is seen as a bad guy, the weak option that can't be trusted or is not needed.

* It becomes the talk of social media. It's all about the brand's bad behavior, negative situation, or circumstances.

* It gets constant negative media coverage.

During this phase, press management is critical. Often, companies hold a press conference or issue a statement shortly after a significant shake-up with their brands. Everything about this first communication is critical. That includes the spokesperson, the venue, and the message. When the situation is handled well, this step is often the opening salvo in the fight back to recovery.

Phase 3: By-products and Other Hazards That May Follow a Troubled Brand

In some cases, a company with its brand under attack handles the incident so well that the problem is soon forgotten, or its brand equity is so strong that the public quickly forgives. When this is not the case, the public and media negative sentiment continues to grow and the real burn sets in. Now, this is what the brand may face:

* Being tied in with other, sometimes more damaged brand stories and events, and being seen as equally evil

* Losing leadership position while competitors are elevated into the spotlight

* Losing significant market share

* Declining revenue

* Falling stock price or valuation

* Defecting employees and partners

* Losing brand equity

Phase 4: Road to Recovery

The road map may vary: some returns are accelerated because a bigger, more damaging event enters the news cycle and the first brand's problems recede from public memory or seem less important; others heal as a result of good planning and execution of recovery strategies and tactics.

Phase 5: Return to Glory

Even after the positive signs of a brand's recovery are evident, maintaining progress and responding to new challenges are paramount to staying on top. Without these drivers, the brand will find itself back in the mud just as quickly as it cleaned itself up.

Brands that survive a crisis move through each of these phases. Once a brand bounces back, it can experience a multitude of benefits. For the rest of this chapter, we shall examine in detail the fall and rise of commercial, nonprofit, individual, and destination brands.

Commercial Brands

Companies, big and small, own commercial brands. They are focused on business objectives and intent on profits that drop to the bottom line for stakeholders.

When the worst is over, bounce-back commercial brands often experience

* Lower customer acquisition costs (new customers arrive and defected customers return)

* Stronger revenues (sales are up)

* Stronger margins (buyers spend more per transaction)

* Organically grown advocacy (customer feedback about product, experiences, and team members is positive)

* More efficient marketing (an increase in positive media coverage and interest)

* Easier recruitment (the best talent and partners again attracted to the brand)

* Organizational pride (which flourishes and feeds brand energy)

Let's look at a specific example: Domino's Pizza.

Domino's Pizza Brand Turnaround Story

The Domino's Pizza brand represents a great slice of the American dream. What started as a very small entrepreneurial venture with big ideas is nowadays a leader in the quick-service food category. The company has been no stranger to challenges and brand shake-ups: In 1968, the company headquarters and commissary were destroyed by fire. Not long after, all of its records were lost during a conversion to a computerized system. Around this time, Domino's also ran into problems with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) that forced its owner, Tom Monaghan, to sell his shares and—for a time

Excerpted from BRAND TURNAROUND by KAREN POST. Copyright © 2012 by Karen Post. Excerpted by permission of The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc..
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Table of Contents

Acknowledgments ix

Introduction xi

Part 1 It's a Brand New Game

Chapter 1 Mission Possible: Brands Can Turn Around 3

Chapter 2 The Warning Is on the Label and the Clock Is Ticking 25

Chapter 3 Chains Hold You Hostage: Change Can Set You Free 37

Part 2 Seven Game Changers That Made the Difference

Chapter 4 Game Changer 1: Take Responsibility 69

Chapter 5 Game Changer 2: Never Give Up 97

Chapter 6 Game Changer 3: Lead Strong 117

Chapter 7 Game Changer 4: Stay Relevant 139

Chapter 8 Game Changer 5: Keep Improving 163

Chapter 9 Game Changer 6: Build Equity 183

Chapter 10 Game Changer 7: Own Your Distinction 207

Afterword 225

Resources 229

Notes 233

Index of Brands 249

Index 251

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