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Ensuring your brand is protected during times of instability 18 MARCH 2021

Ensuring your brand is protected during times of instability
7 minute read

Just over a year ago, we were all beginning to understand the impact COVID-19 was going to have on our lives. With business closures imminent and job losses likely, global governments, organisations and individuals collectively took action to mitigate as much of the potential damage as possible.

Whilst financial and social measures have helped us endure the worst of the storm, a new threat has become increasingly relevant to businesses as the pandemic continues. Is your brand as strong as it was a year ago and can your reputation withstand the harsh realities of a global crisis and an uncertain customer base?

What is a ‘brand’?

To understand how to protect your brand, it is important to first comprehend what a modern brand is. A brand in the traditional sense is a simple concept. It is a business’ identity that distinguishes their goods or services from others. A modern brand, however, is a vast number of individual components that work together to differentiate your business from the rest of the market. It is the message you are trying to convey to potential customers that demonstrates your values and social alignment rather than just an identity.

A brand is the first reason a customer would do business with you; if your brand is weak and shows little to no differentiation, it becomes increasingly difficult to drive new business and eventually, through strong competition, could lead to dwindling levels of customer retention. This is made evident by companies like Apple; while Apple’s competitors rely heavily on continuous new feature development and increased product offerings, Apple continues to sell a limited number of products, with fewer updates between variants. They can only afford to do this because their brand is not only strong enough to retain customers and entice new ones, but is so strong that their products are differentiated away from being labelled in the same category as their competitors.

All this is well and good, but what does this have to do with your brand and the pandemic?

The simple answer is trust. A large part of the role a brand plays for a business is gaining consumer confidence and instilling a sense of trust and security. Consumers see brands as individual entities and every misstep can cause reputational damage that might have been containable 20 years ago, but with the advent of social media and rising levels of responsibility expected of companies, can become irreversible.

Unpredictable times bring unexpected mistakes and after a year of rapidly changing operating models and the introduction of new tactical technology and solutions, the potential for reputational repercussions grows exponentially.

Okay. So how can you protect your brand?

Due to the nature of the business function and industry, there is a somewhat negative perception of collections and recoveries. Add to that, a pandemic and an uneasy consumer base and it may seem like an impossible task to protect your brand. However, there are six things your business can do to protect its individual brand through the transition to full operations:

1. Help customers the right way

It has become much more difficult for some customers to pay their bills and fulfil their financial obligations and they will require additional assistance from you. Many companies over the course of the last year have built up a level of goodwill by supporting customers with payment holidays, payment plans or pausing payments and you’ll need to build on this moving through 2021.

It is crucial to do this not just by showing consumers what you have achieved, but by making policy changes such as improved staff training, better vulnerability checks, improved controls of your outgoing messaging and a more open brand and communications strategy. You can really bring your brand into a positive light going forward and if you are one of the few companies in collections that choose to go that route as opposed to the ones that don't you are going to have the advantage coming out of the pandemic.

There is an opportunity to position your brand as ‘one of the good ones’ and even though it may cost some short-term profits, the long-term benefits are certainly worth it.

2. Differentiate yourself from the rest of the market.

“We are here for you”: a message that has been widely used in one way or another throughout the pandemic by the financial services, utilities, and recoveries sectors. When the entire industry echoes the same message for a prolonged period, it can quickly become background noise and sound disingenuous.

Make sure your message stays true to your values and is independent of the market norm, but be aware that eventually the pandemic is going to end and you cannot simply take back the message you put out during. Make sure your messaging is transferable to the post-COVID world and have a plan for when that comes to avoid contradiction.

3. Identify your corporate values, stick to them, and make them known

We know that trust is an essential element in building a brand. Inconsistency, poor messaging, and values that do not resonate with the market all impact how much consumers believe in your brand.

Make sure your messaging during times of instability does not stray too far away from who you are as an organisation. Consumers have long memories and will spot the inconsistencies. If possible, try developing principles and values that match your customers and stick to them.

4. Accept, own and rectify your mistakes

Mistakes are bound to come with times of uncertainty. A common mistake that has afflicted the collections industry for years has been businesses putting the blame or responsibility on customers rather than accepting errors internally. This will not be an acceptable policy going forward.

Consumers have become more aware of their spending power and ability to influence a brand’s reputation. This means the best way to navigate your way out of a mistake is to recognise your shortcomings and publicly correct them. By doing this, you trade long-term reputational damage with short-term risk.

It is important to be mindful that your business involves people and not just bottom lines; collections and recoveries is a unique industry in that it deals with consumers that are unable to fulfil their financial obligations and are potentially vulnerable. These are real people with real issues and need to be treated as such.

5. Make sure your systems are set up to avoid errors

The right debt collection software can help you avoid potential brand-damaging mistakes. By having the best data available to your support team, customers will receive better treatment and have the correct information at hand.

Having the right debt collection software can also help you handle and store customer data efficiently and appropriately, allowing you to avoid data breaches and data errors that can lead to conflict and reputational damage.

The best way to protect your brand from errors is to mitigate the likelihood of them.


Rebrands can be massively advantageous to any company. They give a brand renewed energy and momentum and can make your company look fresh and interesting again. However, in times of uncertainty customers look for familiarity and stability and this cannot be maintained through a rebrand. Rebrands also require time to build trust among consumers and, as previously highlighted, trust is essential to the success of a brand in times of uncertainty.

Of course certain individual circumstances may deem a rebrand necessary regardless of the current market conditions, but as a general rule it is best to avoid them until you have a better platform to build trust on.

How can Arum help?

At Arum, we can help you mitigate risk and ensure your brand is protected during times of instability. We can help train your staff to interact with customers better, make sure you have the right collections system to provide customers with the best possible outcomes, add interim resources to your team to avoid missteps brought on by understaffing and help you harness the power of emerging technologies.


Dominic Barr
Marketing, Brand & Communications

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