Fighting for Brand Identity Is Never Easy Part 1

This podcast episode focuses on brand identity and the association with different influences and social media platforms can alter public perception for the worse.

Table of Content


Earlier, Larry Leung published an Insight piece about the implications of Twitter changes on brands and the actions they can take to reduce such implications on their reputation, finances, and customer experience process.

This podcast extends the discussion by showcasing how brands have to maintain a close watch on their partnerships with influencers, social media platforms, and marketing messaging.

You can find this podcast episode on SpotifyApple Podcasts, iHeartMedia, Google Podcasts, and Anchor.


Section 1 – Opening: Twitter

(DeAnn) Welcome to another episode of Retail Mashup. I’m DeAnn.

(Larry) And I’m Larry.

(DeAnn) Today we’re going to talk about influencers and brands and how quickly things can go off the rails. Let’s start with the obvious one, which is Twitter. I’ll turn it over to you to talk more about Twitter, and the brands and retailers who were relying on that platform as an advertising medium.

Section 2: Brand Identity

(Larry) It’s been a very interesting journey for many brands that we’ve been talking to who use Twitter as a social media platform to engage with customers. It’s an interesting journey because I think a lot of people think Twitter is just the way I get my information, the way I engage with brands, the way I communicate, and if I have any customer service needs.

They never really thought about Twitter as a platform that would create such big differences in their lives, not in a good way. For brands to have to be part of this journey seeing how the platform is transforming in front of their eyes, they really have to think about how they are using the platform as a way to showcase their products and services, how they should be using the platform to continue managing their customer needs.

And more importantly, if they’re advertising on the platform, should they continue to advertise because the views twitter and its c e o may potentially lead people, their customers, vendors, and other stakeholders to believe that’s also their views and perspective? What do you think, DeAnn?

Section 3 – Brand Reputation Through Changes

(DeAnn) I think yes, I think you’re absolutely right. It’s really difficult. There are so many landmines today and managing brand reputation, and I think it’s difficult to control the image that you’re putting out there in the world because there are so many moving parts and there’s so much lack of control over ownership of the platforms that we’re using. Take Facebook brands were relying on Facebook for a while with a change of direction by mark Zuckerberg changed it over to meta focusing on different things, the character and the people that frequent that site changed almost overnight.

The same thing is starting to happen with Twitter. And so you enter our market agreement with a company, with a social media platform, with the expectation that you’re going to target a certain demographic, you’re gonna put a certain message out, you’re gonna support your image. You’ve done your research to make sure everything’s in line, and suddenly the rug is pulled out from under you.

Section 4 – Brand Identity Implications With Influencers

How do you deal with that? How do you recover and how do you position yourself in a way that gives you protection? Take Kanye West for example has relationships with multiple vendors gap and Adidas. His extreme racist remarks gap dropped him overnight. Adidas took a little bit longer and that delay in reacting, the delay in dealing with it, you could almost hear them mulling over in a room with their lawyers looking over the fine print in the contract trying to find the least damaging way out.

But at the end of the day, that delay is caused them a pause of doubt in their customer’s minds. What does this brand really stand for? And so it’s taken them longer to recover from that perceptive, perceived blip than the Gap brand, which immediately dropped Kanye, moved on, and they really haven’t been associated with it since. Their media followers have just moved on with them. what can brands do to protect themselves when they don’t have control over influencers or platforms? And also, how long does it take to recover from a major impact on your brand reputation?

Section 5 – Adidas

(Larry) Adidas, in their last financial note to the investment community, talked about how the relationship with Kanye West may cost them abort 250 million worth of profits. Even though they are keeping the designs and may mobilize the designs in other ways, consumers, the investment community, and the public may look at those future designs and ask themselves, did they have the signature and DNA of Kanye West?

And if so, would they want to be part of the experience, be part of buying those products that have those DNA in it? That’s definitely one concern Adidas may have or other brands. It’s also very interesting whether or not brands should regularly look into all their relationships, whether or not it’s social media platforms that they use or brand ambassadors that they use.

how exactly are brands and platforms acting in the public? Is it public for good or is it potentially transforming into bad actors? At what point? If they identified them as bad actors they should stop having those relationships.

Section 6 – Balenciaga

(DeAnn) It is. And I know you had some thoughts about Balenciaga and the challenges that they’re going through right now with the ad campaign debacle of Teddy bears with images taken with children, which just raised such a horrible human cry as it.

(Larry) Absolutely, and even though Balenciaga’s creative director has since apologized and they have dropped the lawsuit against the marketing agency, we wondered out loud whether or not there would be a backlash against the brand for a prolonged period of time.

So it’s everybody who has been a supporter of the brand came out to say the images that they promoted and pulled out there are not good for the public and it’s not good for the brand. But its sales gonna be dropped significantly over a very important holiday period.

We’ll have to wait and see and we’ll report back here. It would be interesting in the short term. I have spoken to friends who love the brand and their clothing and shoes, but they are scared to wear the brand out in the public currently. They don’t want to be associated with the brand and what it stands for based on the two commercials.

(DeAnn) Wow.

Section 7 – Lululemon and Inclusiveness

That makes a lot of sense. But I do know that it is possible to recover from a hit to your brand reputation, even in the eyes of social media. I’m thinking back in time, to a company like Lululemon, the initial founder of some things. Impacted the company, but not as much as if he had said them today. I think he initially named the company Lululemon because he felt it would sound very Western to Asian people because it had so many Ls in it.

He said in a news report that it was difficult to pronounce them and everyone was horrified because the Asian people are such an integral and integrated part of Canadian culture today. If he had said that today, I think the company would have experienced a lot more trouble than they do now.

Fast forward a few years and he said even more controversial things. They were having issues with their yoga pants, not fitting and rubbing (their) thighs. And he basically said they’re not intended for anybody who wears a size 12 or more

And so again, today that would be probably a brand killer. But they managed to navigate that and I think at that point they replace him as their CEO and founder. The company has since recovered and built its business on inclusivity and tolerance and a much, more acceptable tone.

And even Chip Wilson himself has gone on to invest in Wilson’s Sporting Goods no relation, I believe. And so he is recovered. So it is possible to recover from a brand hit. I think it’s directly related to how quickly you react to that hit and how actively engaged you are in making it.

Section 8 – Final Words

(Larry) You’re right. Looks like we are going to need to do as part two of the series so that we can talk a little more on what brands can do to identify and manage expectations a little better. I look forward to doing it.

(DeAnn) Yes, they’ll talk to you soon, Larry. See ya.

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