UNDERSTANDABLY brands put in a lot of work to control PR but sometimes disasters happen and the impact that then has on the brand is dependent on the response and the underlying strength of the brand.
Apple’s branding has been exceptional over the last few years but it has not stopped things going wrong. However that strength of branding has meant that once it has responded to issues in a satisfactory manner the problem has quickly gone away.
The antennae design flaw on the iPhone4 last summer saw large drops in BrandIndex buzz score which were exacerbated by Apple’s initially clumsy response (it dropped over 40 points in both the US and the UK in July 2010) but by understanding what was happening it was able to develop that response and the free distribution of covers saw it regain all the lost ground by the start of September.
The poor initial reaction meant the issue dragged on for longer than it should have done but Apple got there in the end
So when researchers caused privacy concerns by revealing that location information is stored on the iPhone we knew that Apple’s response would be crucial.
Buzz scores immediately dropped in the US (by 19 points) and Germany (by 12 points), although interestingly the UK remained largely immune on this occasion, with only a small decline (of five points).
This time Apple responded quickly (on 25 April) and, it would seem, satisfactorily, as a few days after that the comeback began. Although it is yet to get all the way back to where it was in the US and Germany, history and the trend suggest that it will do so soon.
The lesson – withstanding the shocks caused by PR disasters needs a strong brand and a believable and timely response.
Stephan Shakespeare is chief executive of YouGov