Witness the near-fatal brand destruction of Tom Cruise. Way back when, Tom had one of Hollywood’s best publicists on this team. As is wont to happen, they parted ways at a crucial time in Tom’s career. With his sister sitting in the publicity hot seat, perhaps not expecting the land mine that was lying ahead, Tom met Katy Holmes and before you could say “where’s Penelope?” Tom was jumping up and down on Oprah’s couch like a lunatic.
Couple that with some disastrous press conferences, where Tom and Katy’s antics took the spotlight away from Steven Speilberg and the film they were promoting. The press had a field day and Tom’s career took a hit that a lesser star would never have recovered from. What happened? Tom cracked the emotional code when his behaviour was demonstrated outside the carefully crafted Tom Cruise brand.
He broke the sacred trust – the confidence that he had with his fans. His behaviour was inconsistent with his brand. He invoked embarrassment. Pity. Anger. Disbelief. And people started believing what the press were writing about this new Tom Cruise brand. Tom the crackpot. Tom the weirdo. The brand was many things. But a couch jumping fool wasn’t one the fans were willing to consider.
In short, be it packaged good or celebrity brand, when they don’t deliver the brand promise, it can be the kiss of death. Don’t believe the brand as celebrity angle? Visit a hotel review website like TripAdvisor.com. Check out the travelers’ comments section and you’ll likely come across more than a few who cite poor customer service for their negative hotel reviews. On the other hand, employees who represent the brand flawlessly and consistently can propel a business to stardom.
The brand is the sum of all its parts and brand consistency is vital. Without it, like Tom Cruise’s actions, you erode your brand equity and create misperceptions about your company in the market, that in turn could lead prospective customers, employees and even fans, to take a pass on your product. Maybe any PR isn’t good PR after all. Sure, branding is about telling stories – but it’s important to tell good stories! YOUR brands’ reputation depends on it.
[Huge thanks for this Guest Post by Jill Atkinson]