Thursday, October 11, 2012

How Much Brand Equity Did KitchenAid Just Burn?

KitchenAid’s Twitter person just tweeted something tasteless. How bad will the damage be to their brand?

Given the company’s reaction, the damage to KitchenAid will be minimal.

First, KitchenAid issued its “deepest apologies” for what it called an “irresponsible” tweet. It put out this statement, wisely, on the same medium—Twitter—where the offense took place, and did so immediately and with a hashtag. Check, check, check.

Next, when the top tech blog, Mashable, reported on the incident, KitchenAid delivered a statement that Mashable appended to its story. The statement didn’t come from a PR person but the woman in charge of KitchenAid’s Twitter channel. She reiterated the company’s contrition, and made it specific (we are “deeply sorry to President, his family, and the Twitter community”). She condemned the tweet as “tasteless,” and again took full responsibility (“I take responsibility for the whole team”). Finally, she implemented corrective action by promising that the jokester “won’t be tweeting for us anymore.” Check, check, check.

Finally, the company responded to follow-up tweets with an offer to talk on the record. Case closed.

In sum, like Apple, which last week apologized expertly for its Maps app, KitchenAid has managed this incident with pitch-perfect poise. It responded quickly, thoroughly, and smartly.

Equally important: it’s overwhelmingly obvious that this was a mistake, a personal opinion expressed on the corporate channel. Indeed, Twitter has made these blunders an occupational hazard. Fortunately, many customers can imagine themselves committing the same screw-up.

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