In the last post we explained how Brand Breadth helps crisis management, and promised the “how to”. In this  post, we’ll explain in precise detail how to build that Brand Resilience, with references back to the stages of a crisis. In previous posts we introduced and explained the how social strategy enables Brand Resilience and how Resilience incorporated several brand elements including Brand Depth and “Brand Breadth” and in particular how Brand Breadth can be used to enhance Brand Resilience. The theme of these four posts is Brand Resilience, and how that aids during a brand crisis – the “doing part” of which we explain now in this last post in the series.

We summarised the last post as follows: regarding your social assets and connections as a positive force in crisis management – and planning for them to support that objective – is an essential step in moving towards Brand Resilience, which in turn utilizes Brand Breadth (Resilience = Brand Promise + Brand Experience (Depth & Breadth) + Brand Friction + Brand Stock).  For the fuller definition take a quick look back at Brand Resilience 2 – social strategy and brand breadth.

Recap Brand Breadth and Social Presence

Brand Resilience is a function of Brand Promise + Brand Experience (Depth & Breadth) + Brand Friction + Brand Stock. We define Brand Experience as containing two components – Depth and Breadth.  Brand Breadth is an idea which embraces all the “non-operational” touch-points, and especially social media and the “social presence” of a brand. This concept of Breadth is crucially important today for brands, because it has a significant impact on Brand Resilience. One of the pillars of Breadth is social, but it is not about social media marketing, rather it’s about extending the power of social business.

By social presence we mean the assets comprising your visibility, currency, reach and influence in the social media – what we’d call your social architecture. Add into that activity, relevance, content, people, coordination, consistency and you generate a social presence value, which is a core element of Brand Breadth. To elevate social presence into social presence value and hence Brand Breadth you have to be able to do something with that social presence relative to your business objectives and business strategies.  The combination of social presence value and the internal social business strategy and processes is the infrastructure of Brand Breadth.

The core tasks – pre-engagement and segmentation

Today you need to be able to use social media and social business practices as assets, otherwise they will surface as liabilities, particularly in Stage 2. Building Brand Breadth requires planning, preparation and practice across the organisation and in developing the social presence, more specifically the social presence value. That’s because the latter comes down to people to people connections – and that is not done overnight, and it’s not something that you can do without having practiced it in social media.

There are two keys to how Brand Breadth helps in a crisis, the first is in pre-engagement – with customers and beyond in social media. The second is in triaging or segmenting the pre-engaged customer base and and the social media presence and working with those segments pro-actively in different ways, with different business strategies, to achieve a common goal of restoration of brand trust.

How can Brand Breadth helps and how you build it

To use Brand Breadth in a crisis you have to first have it! If you don’t have it then you cannot use it. Here are the core steps of how to built it:

  • Hygiene Step #1 – You know all the basic social touch points of your customers. You’re collecting this right, just like you collect their emails and phone numbers?
  • Hygiene Step #2 – You understand which of your customers are Social VIPs – for the sake of this hygiene step you can define that simply, as you wish.
  • Hygiene Step #3 – You are able to coordinate and integrate social interactions with your customers with your overall objectives and other customer engagement objectives. You do have social engagement with your customers, right?
  • Hygiene Step #4 – You have a social architecture which is aligned with your social strategy which in turn aligned with business strategy. You do know where you are present in social, and why, and who is interacting in those places and how, and how well they are performing in terms of engagement and communication with all other relevant parts of the business?
  • Hygiene Step #5 – You know how the whole digital online world perceives you at any point in time and you integrate this into your business decisions and communications actions. You do monitor, analyse and measure sentiment, brand mentions, competitor activity and relevant risk across social media?

If you have all the above in place then you have the social business process and communications systems linked with business objectives and social presence – giving you a basis for building Brand Breadth.

You can next ensure that you have some of the basic things in place, those that go beyond the elementary listed as “hygiene” above – meaning that if you don’t have the hygiene steps then you best go back and set them up. There are no shortcuts to effective Brand Breadth. Here are the next set of foundation steps:

  • Basic Step #1 – You have triaged, segmented, sliced & diced, your customer base, into relevant whatever segments – marketing, behavioural, life-stage, next event, CLV, implied NPS, at risk, price sensitive, vanity, loyalty etc. You do have a quality segmentation of your customer base?
  • Basic Step #2 – You know the social presence of your customers and their social presence value (as compared to their basic social touch points in “Hygiene Step #1). You are measuring the authoritative bloggers, those running influential forums, and those with massive twitter reach?
  • Basic Step #3 – You know, from all corners of your social presence, those within it which have influence, authority, reach and standing and who are not current customers. They are not current customers but you know what they do, and have engaged with them in a way, and because, it is relevant to your business objectives and brand management strategy.
  • Basic Step #4 – You know how to use all of the above in a cross-functional cross-business-unit coordinated way accurately, completely and aligned with current business initiatives. You understand that this is not about social media marketing?

With those steps in place you have a nice foundation of Brand Breadth, which you now need to activate and shore up.

  • Activation Step #1 – You are listening, networking, contributing, participating in the social realms of your customers in a style and manner which adds value according to their identified segmented customers needs (review Basic Step #1). That is, you are pre-engaged; which is one of the key elements of “preparation” – you’ve made it!
  • Activation Step #2 – You are doing the same as above across your entire non-customer social presence, which means having relevant coordinated content and real people each of whom has their own real social media presence – another key component of preparation.
  • Activation Step #3 – You understand not only the social presence value of each of your key customers and key social contacts (as per Basic Steps #2 & #3) but also how that maps into business strategies, plans and potential actions, for example, how this maps on to the scenario of a brand crisis? Do you see where we are heading?
  • Activation Step #4 – You have content ready, social business training done, protection plans in place, risk management understood, crisis management trained for, and communication plans for all stakeholder and social media groups in place, operating, and where appropriate rehearsed.

Congratulations – you have a new asset – Brand Breadth, which will you will be able to effectively deploy to help mitigate the damage from a brand crisis.

Do you really need Brand Breadth?

Well it depends on how much you need to transform into a social business, and how much social media could potentially damage your brand and equity value through an unforeseen crisis. Without Brand Breadth, it’s hard to manage the risk, with it, there is a important part it plays in your risk management processes. But of course, it’s value also extends far beyond risk management and a brand crisis, and that’s where the business strategy question comes in of how much you need to be a social business in order to succeed in the future.

To achieve Brand Breadth appears to be a massive amount of work, and it is at face value. You have to have clear business objectives, and the brand elements form just one business strategy of those serving those objectives. The strategy of transforming to a social business is also delivering to those business objectives, and not an objective in its own right. However it you transform to a social business then the related additional work to develop effective Brand Breadth and Brand Resilience is a marginal but non-trivial addition to your people, processes and platforms - that’s the key point.

Brand Breadth outside the context of a social business transformation is meaningless, just as social business outside of clear business objectives is meaningless.

Example of using Brand Breadth

How would having an effective Brand Breadth work in practice – in a brand crisis? Let’s think of a generic “Qantas” brand crisis, along the lines of any of those that they had last year. What happened in those events was that Qantas went into crisis management mode as those crises evolved exactly along the lines of the Four Stages. They had a fire hose of activity to deal with on Twitter and then had to deal with Facebook and all that overwhelmed their small social media team, who at face value seemed to be the only people handing the social presence, the social storm.

Each of those “PR disasters” was pre-planned – they were premeditated actions with unexpected consequences. The one big event that wasn’t pre-planned was an engine exploding on an A380 over Indonesia and the aircraft having to return to Singapore enduring dire systems problems, but landing safely. Qantas ran that event up the social media flagpole and saluted it as a great success, an opinion not universally shared.

While the planned events offer the chance of using Brand Breadth for prior analysis and communications planning, the unplanned events also totally benefit from it by way of the role that Brand Breadth plays in an organisation and the preparation and practice which is a routine occurrence.

This how a planned event, e.g. a social media marketing campaign, would utilize Brand Breadth as part of risk management and mitigation:

  • iGo2 Brand Resilience Model graphicPre-Event Step #1 – Understand the mood and sentiment of your customers and non-customers in social throughout your social presence. If you have a past history of “behaving badly” and you are the likely contender for the “perpetrator” title in the current crisis (Stage 3), you need to know it, and to think super carefully about your planned event and any potential adverse reactions – this idea is encapsulated in our Brand Resilience formula = Brand Promise + Brand Experience (Depth & Breadth) + Brand Friction + Brand Stock. The fabulous thing about social media is that you can get this “Brand Stock” reading from your social presence network – loud and clear.
  • Pre-Event Step #2 – Understand across your entire customer and non-customer social presence which people are likely to be strong advocates, advocates, neutral, detractors, and strong detractors. In particular understand this for each segment of your segmented customer base – now you are getting into the realms of big data and more importantly the meaningful analysis of big data.
  • Pre-Event Step #3 – Select or prepare content for each of the groups above, and for each of the segments in your segmented customer base, and select and train the people who will be dealing with those different groups in social according to the findings of steps #1 & 2 above. You have to be prepared for the mood of the reaction according to your analysis of your Brand Stock.
  • Pre-Event Step #4 – “Test market” the planned actions with different groups in social, through the selected people, and assess feedback. Forget focus groups, that’s looking backwards.
  • Pre-Event Step #5 – Map the different “reaction” scenarios to the resources needed to engage through your current social presence with the various identified segments, and to cope with any extra levels of engagement which might erupt.
  • Pre-Event Step #6 – Review and make sure that your cross-functional and cross-business unit coordination, escalation, communication and decision-making processes are in place and work.

Then push the button!

In the event of an unforeseen brand crisis you can now activate the operational plan built upon your established Brand Breadth:

  • Operational Action #1 – Listen, analyse, understand and reflect on the social feedback.
  • Operational Action #2 – Categorise the feedback in to your customer segmentation and social analysis of them and your non-customers. Are there any new influencers and authorities who are participating, and why, and what are they saying and what are their possible objectives?
  • Operational Action #3 – This is the core of the value of Brand Breadth in this crisis – utilise the specific communications and engagement plans (a la Pre-Event Step #3) for each of the customer segment groups and the breakdown of the non-customer social presence, and in particular focus additional resources on those who you have identified as potential advocates. Additional resources will be required for this latter group as the approaches have to be by people and personal – that takes time and effort and people!
  • Operational Action #4 – Once the crisis hits it is going to move very quickly into Stage 2, and this includes the “reputation repair” process. This needs careful attention, and monitoring – the role of listening out for, listening to, and nurturing those in your customer base and those in your social presence with authority, influence, and reach becomes critical. If you have effective Brand Breadth you will be able to focus resources on those key groups, and be less distracted by other groups, and stand the maximum chance of managing any brand damage.


The nub of a Brand Breadth plan for a brand crisis is this – you need know your customers’ social world, and that of the people which you reach through your effective social presence, and you need to be organisationally capable of utilising that information effectively, selectively and personally when a crisis hits. The value of that extended resource in defending and protecting your brand is what will reduce the risk of brand damage and hence increase its resilience, along with the other factors of Resilience – Promise, Breadth, Friction and Stock.

What might you do differently in harnessing social assets in a brand crisis?

How much value does the concept of Brand Breadth add to your approach to managing brand value as a business strategy?

Please comment below.


Here’s a quick link to “The Four Stages of Highly Effective Crisis Management: How to Manage the Media in the Digital Age” on Amazon.

Quick link to Post #1 How social media enables brand resilience

Quick link to Post #2 Brand Resilience 2 – social strategy and brand breadth

Quick link to Post #3 Why building Brand Breadth is important for Crisis Management

Here is the COMPLETE SET of this post and the three previous posts on Scribd as a PDF.