Understandably, brands put in a lot of work to control PR. But sometimes, disasters happen. The impact this then has on the brand is dependent on the response and the underlying strength of the brand in the first place.
Apple’s branding has been exceptional over the last few years, but that has not stopped things going wrong. However, its strength of branding has meant that once the company has responded to issues in a satisfactory manner, the problems have quickly gone away.
The antennae design flaw on the iPhone 4 last summer saw large drops in the 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). However, by understanding what was happening, Apple was able to develop that response and the free distribution of covers that fixed the antennae issue saw the brand regain all 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 earlier this year by revealing that users' 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 April 25th) 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.
Buzz scores in the UK and US - after antennae news
Buzz scores in the UK, Germany and US - after location news