A story was created by some supposed doctor about the ingredients in Burger King’s incredibly popular Impossible Burger. The rumor was, if men consumed a certain amount of them, they would start growing breasts. The rumor was big enough that it got picked up by media outlets and was even debunked by Fox News. It really just goes to show how even seemingly ridiculous things can become talking points and rumors about your brand.
What are we all supposed to do as brands and marketers when this is the environment that we live in? The truth is that there’s no magic bullet.
What you really need to do to protect your brand against disinformation is something that is simple, but not easy. You need to build a brand that is so strong it will be hard to believe the false stories because there is better true content that is more engaging and more interesting than the lies and rumors that are being spread about you.
This approach is rooted in the fundamentals of brand building. First, brands are what brands do. Brands are not your logo. They’re not your ad. They’re not some corporate mission statement. They are everything that you say and do and every experience that people have with your product, service, company. Brand-building is a long-term proposition; it takes a lot of investment to build a strong brands.
Second, you have a brand whether you want one or not. If brands are what brands do, then not doing anything and not caring about your brand (and basically not trying to have a brand) is a brand. People are experiencing your product, seeing your advertising or your logos, and forming opinions and relationships about your brand whether you want them to or not.
Third, brands and branding are not just for marketers. Everybody in the organization impacts the brand in some way, shape, or form. Everyone needs to be constantly working on building your brand to make any lies less easy or enticing to believe.
Don’t just take it from me. George Washington once said, “Offensive operation oftentimes, is the surest, if not the only (in some cases) means of defense.” I think we all know that expression better as “the best offense is a good defense.” If people are going to be deciding what’s true or not based on their existing prior knowledge of your brand, and any confirmation bias they might have, then it’s really important that you build a solid defense and build that through a solid offense.
They say that facts beat myths. But, the truth is, it’s really stories and content that beat myths. You have to outperform the lies, the rumors, and the disinformation. You have to have better stories and share more interesting content.
(This post was created using content from Ezra Englebardt’s presentation given at Summit 2020: brands & the disinformation reality.)