I’m sorry…why keeping it real makes brand sense

    628 314 Lisa Steingold

    I have a best friend and I generally speak to her at least once a day despite the fact that we live on different continents. Throughout our time together we’ve been through conflict; as is the nature of human relationships. Recently she had an interview that I clean forgot about. It really just slipped my mind.

    I called her the next day and said “I’m sorry. I just forgot”. She stated that she’d wondered what happened to me and then we carried on talking.

    This may seem a relatively benign example in comparison to someone having an affair or perhaps even to a major corporate crisis such as the recent debacle with VW and the misrepresentation of their carbon emissions. The principle however holds true; the act of apologizing SINCERELY is the greatest route to forgiveness.

    Most people understand that brands, made up of individuals, make mistakes. We also understand that other people make mistakes just as we do. We’re generally open to hearing people’s apologies and forgiving them if we feel them to be sincere.

    I MC’d a conference the other day where Kirsty Sharman, Head of Operations at  Webfulential, presented that 70% of people don’t trust brands. Why then do brands employ intelligent Communications Managers (such as myself I might add) to come up with a ‘story’ when they make a mistake. Why not just say sorry and get on with fixing the situation.

    I’ve always stated that Authentic Engagement + Business Intelligence*Innovation = Mastery in Dynamic Markets® And honesty is the first step in this success equation. Despite the seeming success of politicians, I’m not sure that brands who act without integrity will be around in years from now. Of course I may be wrong but I’m watching the space closely. Just think Enron, Goldman Sachs and other antiquated corporate giants, no names mentioned Shell.

    In this article “How brands should apologize: Be quick, honest, and sincere“, author Stein states that “The Home Depot proactively communicated with customers about its investigation into a credit- and debit-card data breach of its national network of stores.”

    This takes it one step further; image admitting having made a mistake before others know about it? Now that’s a mature individual / brand, and yes, I view them similarly in terms of behaviour. The truth is we do date brands but that’s a whole other story for next time…

    For now keep it real personally and professionally:-)


    Lisa Steingold

    All stories by: Lisa Steingold