Strong Brand: Your Armor in Digital Chaos

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May 18, 2023 - During BSI’s Annual Connect Summit, I addressed the concept of digital trust amongst digital chaos and why putting privacy, data protection, and managing cybersecurity threats at the core of your organization’s strategy, culture, and values will separate you from the competition. In this follow-up series, we’ll explore the importance of brand reputation, and why it’s imperative for building and sustaining trust within your organization.

Reputation is imperative for every organization, both in the traditional sense and in the digital space. Reputation is built on the trust that your stakeholders and customers place in you as a person or organization. Who are the most trusted brands and companies in the world? Who do you trust in your life and why?

Brand reputation is “built in drops and lost in buckets”

Brand focus is about building consumer, customer, stakeholder, and more broadly, societal trust, and then sustaining that trust. For example, you see a familiar chain restaurant where you know you can get a great sandwich, and you get it just the way you like and know that it will taste just like you expect it to taste. Now, think about the communication devices that are in your pocket or those we’re using right now to interact globally. They work exactly the way you expect them to work, exactly when you need them to work.

Those organizations behind the sandwich and communication devices have built consumer trust in their brands over several years. Sustaining that trust becomes vital to brand resilience to face down a world of threat. It takes one incident, a threat that materializes, and all that brand equity and trust is at risk.

The likelihood of incidents occurring is higher than ever before in today’s information age thanks to the proliferation of data, the ease and speed of communication, the rise of social media, and the scourge that is fake news. Even though brand reputation is built in “drops” and earned trust is built over time, it can be lost in a matter of seconds. Once it’s lost, it's harder to regain.

T-Mobile is one such example, as they fell victim to a data breach in August 2021 that exposed 76.6 million current and former customers’ information. This was further exacerbated by a lawsuit for allegedly failing to meet the obligations set out in their privacy policy and to protect their customers’ data.

Sustaining a trustworthy brand

It’s important for organizations to understand the concept of the brand, and once they’ve invested in building it,reputation is paramount and challenges organizations to strategically plan and invest in building and sustaining it. Organizations should ask themselves key questions as part of that process:

  • What do we need to invest internally in the organization to protect our brand?
    • You need to understand the internal and external threats that your organization faces.
    • You need to prioritize an action plan to reduce the risks from these threats.
    • You need to hire the right people with the right skillsets.
  • What is our backup-plan when something goes wrong?
    • When something goes wrong, the best plan isn’t one on paper but a tried and tested incident and response plan that is appropriately owned and communicated.
    • Ensure that senior management and key stakeholders are aware of the plan and (regulatory) notification and escalation protocols are defined, known, and tested as well.
    • The backup-plan MUST be tested. It’s only as effective as its last validation.
  • If we must regain trust across our customer base, how do we accomplish that?
    • Be open, honest, and transparent.
    • Involve external and internal stakeholders as appropriate, and if in doubt, call in the experts. In fact, call in the experts anyway—those with incident response, privacy, forensics, crisis management, PR, and communications expertise.
    • Accept that it takes time. It’s a marathon, not a sprint.

We’ve learned just how important a strong brand reputation is and how this can help you avoid the digital chaos in today’s information age. Coming up in part two of our Avoiding digital chaos series, we’ll be exploring the threats and opportunities that arise from new technologies.

Read Conor Hogan’s latest thought leadership piece: Notes from the summit: trust amongst the digital chaos and listen to the full Connect Summit session: Trust Amongst the Digital Chaos. For more on the topic of brand reputation protection, read Risk mitigation adds long term value.

For more insights on other digital trust, privacy, information security, and environmental, health, and safety topics that should be at the top of your organization's list, visit BSI's Experts Corner.