While a company’s image represents a standardized image with its goals, products, and services, there are always the unexpected consequences (positive or negative) of an opinion. An audience is composed of many diverse individuals, all with their own objective beliefs and values.
A company’s image is not always the property of a distinct individual. Often comprised of various parts and originating with a purpose in mind, is now defined by the values beliefs within the company as well. Hot topics that cover religion and politics can be a very sensitive subject and can often cost a brand profoundly by distorting its image. It is therefore important to consider how to handle those opinions and learn how to use them to one’s advantage.
Individuals can always elicit their own values, but it makes it difficult to remain separate when a brand is being represented. It is important to keep in mind that the public does not separate personal opinion from a brand. This is because people care about their personal values. When you express your personal values, it can weaken your audience’s support and cause distrust with a brand. There are times that consideration is given to supporting a questionable topic and then that brings up the thought of whether controversy is still publicity, but will the rewards outweigh the cost?
Just remember that the loud speaker is always on and whether or not the topic is controversial, it will be heard and will inevitably go viral. It is often best to avoid aligning your brand with political or religiously related stances. Neutrality is important because you are always targeting 100% of the audience, even if they aren’t doing direct business with you. Word of mouth matters and you always want to be a recommendation.
A brand is composed of many different individuals, all with their own values. While it is unreasonable to force belief on others, when they are expressive of your brand, they are responsible for representing the core values of the company, and not the individual themselves. With the values established, there is still the question of how your brand can embrace the values and beliefs of fellow employees.
Bad public relation situations can often be the result of allowing individuals to express their own values and not take into consideration the brand as a whole. An effective way of managing these types of situations is by encouraging opinions and welcoming honest and open feedback. Allow employees to be open with you, yet remain discreet as well. This can often help to ensure that the brand is “real” and in touch with the world, not outside it.
Brands and opinions are often hard to separate, but can be even more difficult to combine unless you have the right formula created. Be sure the brand and company image takes a stand on its values and that those that represent it always stay in the bounds of enforcing and endorsing those values.