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Can you build brand equity from a crisis? Qantas did

In the deep and chilling midst of a crisiswe believe it is possible to still demonstrate to stakeholders your purpose and your values, and ultimately strengthen the equity of your brand.  

Qantas Flight 32 

4 November 2010. Heading for Sydney, a Qantas Airbus A380 took off from Singapore’s Changi Airport with 469 passengers and crew on board. 

Just a few minutes after take-off, one of the aircrafts Rolls-Royce Trent 900 engines started blasting heavy, red-hot chunks of the engine through the wing, severely damaging critical control systems.  

Fortunately, two hours later, the aircraft made a successful emergency landing at Changi. 

Qantas CEO, Alan Joyce personally took control of the airline’s reputation in the aftermath. Dozens of media interviews followed, and each time Joyce reassured concerned passengers, offered updates and emphasised Qantas’ focus on safety. 

That was authentically demonstrated when Joyce announced that Qantas had grounded its wider fleet of six A380s ahead of a full investigation. 

For Joyce and Qantas, one of the this approach reinforced, rather than undermined, one of the key brand pillars of Qantas; that the safety of its passengers was its number one focus. 

In one interview, Joyce said “These issues demonstrate a strong positive safety culture, because when we found out a problem with an engine that had a design issue, we grounded the fleet until we knew how we could fix the issue. I think it’ll actually do our brand really good in the medium to long term.” 

And what was extremely telling following the crisis was that instead of Qantas losing trust with its customers, its ‘trust meter’ score with consumers actually increased by 1%.  

Key takeaways  

Silence is deadly 

Silence is extremely detrimental in a crisis. If you don’t keep your stakeholders informed, they will be forced to listen to others who fill that information vacuum, and they are unlikely to have your best interests at heart. 

The first thing you should do is acknowledge what has happenedA gap left with no communication can be filled with fear and misinterpretation 

If you need help crafting an official statement, contact our crisis communication experts 

Honesty is the best policy 

One of the worst things an organisation can do in a crisis is to hide the facts or sugarcoat a crisis.  

As Alan Joyce revealed, communicating honestly, transparently and clearly goes a long way in proving you genuinely do care. 

Be empathetic 

By stripping back the buzzwords and using an engagingauthentic, and human-focused perspective with regards to the issue, your brand will build trust with stakeholders 

Some immediate responsibilities to consider in a crisis  

  • Secure the front line 
  • Activate social and traditional media monitoring  
  • Map stakeholders so you can prioritise engagement  
  • Draft initial holding statements and determine the platforms you will need to be active on 
  • Brief/train spokesperson 
  • Log and respond to all media enquiries  

Cannings Purple – trusted support when you need it 

 Cannings Purple’s expertise in issues management and communications can help you prepare for any crisis.  We work alongside your business to implement a reputation recovery strategy to rebuild trust and relationships.