Consumers are the livelihood of any brand. Apart from acquiring the brand’s products, they influence the public’s perception of it. Such power can be beneficial and quite destructive. Your audience will spread the word about your product; however, one step in the wrong direction can turn them into an army that will drive your brand to the ground.
The 21st century has been characterized by growing technological advancements, and eventually how we communicate. Social media platforms are now the norm. These platforms have revolutionized how brands communicate and grow their audience. However, social media platforms have also led to the growth of the ‘cancel culture.’

What is the ‘cancel culture’?

The concept of cancel culture involves the popular withdrawal of support from companies or public figures after they have said or done something considered offensive or objectionable. Often, the organization or individual faces public backlash with calls to cancel the organization or individual. This is done to ensure that the livelihood of an organization or the career of the individual is ended either through disciplinary actions or boycotts.

Can it happen to my brand?

Yes, it can. In the age we live in, something benign can be the trigger that leads to your brand being cancelled out. Your brand is not immune to the call-out culture. What you share to the public is permanent, and there’s no way of going back on it.

Kevin Hart is a great comedian. 2018 was a great year and would open doors for him to live his life long dream – hosting the 2019 Oscars. However, due to homophobic remarks he made between 2011 and 2012, his dream of hosting the Oscars would remain a dream. He was forced to step down.

How to respond when your business is being cancelled

When your brand faces backlash and risks being cancelled, it is important that you are swift in how you respond. However, remember that only a well thought out plan will help you and not a knee jerk reaction.

Here’s what you should do when your brand is called out and risk being cancelled out:

a. Be Aware (Listen)

Try to ascertain the source of the issue. Even a small issue such as a comment, a post or even a reply can be the turn into a trending hashtag and before you know it, a flurry of memes which will taint your image.

Try to ascertain what is causing all the criticism? Are the consumers demanding any action? Listen carefully and track the scope of the conversations. This will provide insight into how you will shape your public response to address the audience feedback.

b. Be genuine

By ignoring social media consumers, your brand is likely to lose 35% of customers who will opt to boycott it. Additionally, such customers are likely to contact you through other channels.

However, what’s worse than ignoring complaints is issuing a poor response. This increases the risk of customers boycotting the brand by 43%.

People can spot vague language or passive stance. It is important that your response remains genuine. Human beings apologize for their mistakes, and the same should apply for brands.

However, there are great implications for this; for example, you cannot take responsibility without investigating the facts and therefore the need to involve your legal and PR teams.

An apology might suffice in some instances, but others will require that you do more work. Your response will determine whether you can win customers who were developing doubts about your brand after sharing their complaints.

c. Be responsive

It is important that you maintain transparency when facing criticism or being called out. However, your brand is likely to regain about 80% of your previous customers by admitting the mistake and remaining transparent on the resolution process.

If it is your brand’s campaign advertisement that is deemed insensitive or causing the negative attention, pull it down from circulation immediately. Respond to any queries and offer clarifications on what your brand does. If the issue is quite serious, for example, failure to take a stance on social issues, a statement or apology on social media will not suffice. There are cases where clients need to see real change.

Brand management and the Cancel-Culture

Online reputation management is a critical aspect of any public relations campaign. That is why at Strategic Online Marketing, we focus on improving and growing your brand’s reputation by increasing its recognition.

Every PR team dreams of working with a brand whose reputation is flawless. However, maintaining flawless reputations has proved quite challenging due to customer service issues and to the increasing stands om on controversial social justice movements or policies.

What do we do?

  • We manage your brand’s reputation and image across different digital platforms
  • Navigate your brand and business through the age of Cancel-culture
  • Developing effective crisis communications plans to help your brand when it finds itself a victim of the cancel culture

Contact us today and let your brand live stress-free.