The Importance of Reputation During Crises

By Ardian Elkana, the president and director of Avigra Communications, a branding and communications firm.

Although most countries have been hit hard by the current global financial crisis, Indonesia has not suffered that much. In fact, Indonesia is one of only three countries in Asia with positive economic growth during this crisis. Apparently, the 1998 Asian “monetary quake” has left many Indonesian companies more prepared to face the current financial tremor. I run one of them.

As a branding and corporate communication consultant, I understand how vital a company’s image and reputation can be during times of turmoil. When things are going south, people look to certain business leaders and companies for strength; having a solid strategy helps achieve that. When it comes to my business, we have learned vital lessons from the cases we handled during the 1998 crisis. One of the biggest lessons learned involved the importance of maintaining—and protecting—a corporate reputation.

When the 1998 crisis started, one of our biggest clients was facing an up-hill battle. Eager to get on the right page, they did not give their bankers and lenders time to doubt. The company wanted, as early as possible, to give their clients a clear picture of its current condition and confirm its commitment to pay its debt. Instead of launching a full-fledge corporate communication campaign to build its credibility, the company chose to invest in its corporate reputation by proactively inviting all its bankers and lenders to a meeting in Singapore.

We helped our client formulate and deliver the key messages in a straightforward multimedia presentation and arranged interview sessions with major media. This proactive strategy proved effective; our client won the creditors’ trust and succeeded in rescheduling its installment plan and expanding its aquaculture business. Because our client was clear and forthright with their intentions from the get-go, they were able to further solidify their position as a credible business.

As in 1998, the current financial crisis has damaged some of the world’s most valuable companies; however, it has offered businesses around the world a chance to learn from their mistakes and grow as leaders of industry. Thanks to these crises, we have become more creative in repositioning our brand, and we have a stronger appreciation for our reputation.

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