What is in the brand name? Could it have a real impact on consumer forgiveness when said brand faces a reputation crisis? New study from Business Research Journal, “very fun! How Fun Brand Names Affect Utilitarian Product Forgiveness and PleasureHe notes that some brands are more tolerated than others, particularly those with innovative or playful names.
Authors Shelley Ratti (Villanova University), Tamara M. Masters (University of Utah) and Grace F.U. Buck (University of Maryland Eastern Shore) believe that fun brand names can prevent the fallout from crises, both performance-related (eg, garden hose leaking) and related in value (eg, racially insensitive remarks by a CEO). Through their research, the team discovered that a consumer is more willing to tolerate a fun brand if its product is utilitarian (like Wayfair), rather than a fun brand with a fun or fun product (like Groupon).
The study looks at the elements that define a fun brand name, including attractive fonts, symbols and emojis, funky spellings, and vibrant colours. Examples of other fun brands with utilitarian products include Trader Joe’s and Geico. Meanwhile, fun products include Starbucks and Wendy’s products.
Are Netflix and Facebook “fun” enough?
One might look at two recent crises at Netflix and Facebook, respectively, and wonder if their brand names and products might push users to forgive faster. Facebook, of course, continues to deal with whistleblower Frances Hogan and facebook papersWhich, so far, has exposed misinformation and targeting of shady algorithm policies. and again in NetflixAn employee has been fired over a controversial reaction to comedian Dave Chappelle’s latest special, which discusses his views on transgender people at length.
Adam Ritchie of Adam Ritchie Brand Direction says if a brand wants easy tolerance in a crisis it can’t be that bad to get past it. Additionally, he suggests, the brand should have spent years building a store of goodwill large enough to make people want to forgive rather than punish it. For Facebook, this may not be the case.
“Facebook — a company that has come a long way through the brand lifecycle and has come out the other side as a utility — what users think of them doesn’t matter as much as what government and their marketing partners think of them,” Ritchie says. “Utilities only need permission to operate: no tolerance.”
But Ritchie says the link between tolerance and naming does not apply. The Facebook name isn’t cute, it’s scary.
“[Its] The name may be Squigglebook and people will still have trouble getting their emotions poked for clicks.”
Creativity cannot solve everything
As a warning to communication professionals and CEOs, the study authors emphasized that linguistic creativity alone will not protect a brand’s bottom line from enduring a crisis nor will it abdicate its need for accountability.
Without tolerance, consumer reactions to overreach can mean the loss of their business and word-of-mouth negative words may alienate other consumers from the brand, leading to further loss of revenue,” the authors wrote.
Turning to Netflix and Dave Chappelle, Brian Hart, founder and president of Flackable, says before a brand or individual responds to a crisis, they need to think about the origins of outrage.
“When a group actually hated you before the crisis, it is deeply misleading to think that an apology will calm it down,” Hart says. “Take Dave Chappelle, for example. People angry at The Closer don’t want to apologize. They won’t forgive him. That’s not what they’re looking for. They want to cancel it. That’s why Dave’s unapologetic, unapologetic tone was perfect response for this case.”
So what else can brands do? Ironically, while the products aren’t comedic, Ritchie says a sense of humor can sometimes thaw an audience’s freeze, if no one outside the brand is directly affected.
“If a brand is in the midst of a crisis where no one but the brand is hurting, one of the best things it can do is make fun of itself,” Ritchie says. Kentucky Fried Chicken has acknowledged the UK’s chicken shortage by publishing a full-page ad of apology in the Sun and Metro newspapers, rearranging the letters on its buckets to say, ‘FCK.’
And what about Facebook? Users and haters may take the brand name into their own hands.
“For Facebook, what matters is the casual to hardcore user base, as well as the company’s troubling inability to gain traction with Gen Z users,” Hart says. “While apologies paired with meaningful action may help control damage in the short term, the Boomerbook image will prove to be a more significant brand crisis in the long term.”
Nicole Schumann is a reporter for PRNEWS. follow her Tweet embed