Tiger Woods’ made an exciting comeback last week by winning his 5th Master’s Tournament and 15th major title. It was a marked change from the position that he found himself in a few years ago, when his personal and professional challenges resulted in a number of major sponsors like Procter & Gamble, Gatorade and Tag Heuer choosing to end their relationship with him, as a way of protecting their own brand reputation.
Brand reputation is how a company’s products are perceived by its investors, customers and the market as a whole. It reflects customer experience, association with the brand and the company. The risk or damage to a company and its reputation can come from many fronts, such as competition from the entry of new and improved goods into the market, supply chain issues, or negative publicity.
Protection of a brand can also be achieved through effective management of intellectual property rights such as trademarks, patents, industrial design and copyright, which can be valuable in the growth of a business. Exploitation of these rights, through licensing or merchandising for instance, can add commercial value and strengthen profitability. A company with a well-respected brand can enjoy a strong market presence built on the loyalty and trust of its customers. Achieving this means having a robust strategy in place to protect intellectual property rights and the brand’s reputation.
Protecting Your Brand
One place to start is by taking steps to ensure the intellectual property rights being used to promote your brand are properly owned and registered in all relevant jurisdictions. There should also be maintenance of the ownership of these rights in keeping with the laws of the respective countries where protection is sought. This is can be particularly helpful in bringing infringement actions against illegal activity.
Monitoring online sites and social media continues to be integral today for all business in managing any risk to brand reputation. Threats include online sites selling counterfeit goods, misspelt domain names , misdirecting online users, and ‘fake news’ being posted and quickly disseminated to the public. Being able to respond just as quickly using the same media to address the issue at hand is required to stop the haemorrhaging of information calculated to erode or destroy reputation.
The damage to reputation might not be product related or from market competition, but through merchandising or endorsement agreements. Reputational risk can arise where for example the actions of a well-known personality has a detrimental effect on a brand and that association may need to be terminated.
With the benefit of hindsight, perhaps those brands who dropped Tiger Woods all those years ago, could have stayed with him through the difficult times and would have reaped the benefits of such a move today, but navigating reputational risk is not easy.
Being prepared and having a multi-disciplined pragmatic approach to crisis management is the best way forward. Having the capacity to assess the full extent of the problem, gather all the facts, calculate the cost, consider all the risks, the pros and cons of acting or not, having a good well-trained team in place are only a few factors a business should face in decisively mitigating risk and protecting its reputation.