How Does A Brand Recover From A Mistake?

Anees Mueller
by Anees Mueller
April 25, 2022

After all the buzz surrounding the slap at The Oscars, it’s hard not to wonder: Can Will Smith ever come back from that?

Fortunately for him, Smith has a lot going for him. As a multi-talented entertainer, it’s unlikely that people will indefinitely reject his music, acting and generally winsome personality. But at its current fervor, the event does seem significant for the foreseeable future.

Other celebrities have suffered a fall after seeming to reach untouchable status: Chrissy Teigan, and Justin Timberlake come to mind.

Your business isn’t a celebrity but like these famous entertainers, you are a brand. And brands sometimes make a misstep. Maybe it’s a social post that went viral for all the wrong reasons or a new product line with a name that you didn’t realize was offensive.

It could be something much less dramatic and newsworthy, such as a lapse in your marketing strategy, an investment that didn’t go well or a change in leadership that didn’t pan out.

The question remains: how do you recover?

Maybe you can find the answer in a few examples:

Jack in the Box

When an E. coli breakout was linked to 70 stores in the years 1992-93, Jack in the Box had an uphill battle to restore its reputation. They even tried to blame their meat supplier, which only made things worse. After a couple of years of implementing new preparation practices and safety standards, the restaurant chain managed a comeback.


The brand once dominated the athletic shoe market, holding 80% of market share for decades between the 1920s and 1970s until brands like Puma, Adidas and Nike took over. But it turns out that the street culture that had always loved the brand had more love to share. When Nike purchased Converse in 2004 they marketed it as a street shoe and gave the brand new life.


Two bankruptcies filed in just eight years seemed to spell doom for the snack cake company. But a new CEO made big changes to manufacturing processes and introduced innovations to the product line. What nobody saw coming was an almost bottomless demand for snacks during the pandemic. Hostess has enjoyed 10% growth in recent years.

What if your mistake doesn’t follow the pattern of any that occurred before?

Like Will Smith, you may be blazing new trails of regret and public criticism. Here are a few ideas:


This is not the “I’m sorry you were offended” brand of apology. Be sincere and take responsibility. Don’t blame others and complicate things.

Return to Your Brand Values

Go back to the beginning and remind your team of what makes your company special.

Correct the Problem

You may have the kind of situation where there’s no delaying this step, but if it’s a manufacturing inefficiency or a quality problem, this may be a long-term plan.

Move Forward

In most cases, things are probably going to blow over. You may suffer a setback that feels lengthy, but it’s likely that with the right messaging, quality products and a positive approach, you’ll be able to reemerge in your market.

If you’re working to right a major misstep, there are tools to make it all easier, like our all-in-one marketing automation platform. Contact us at to learn more.

Anees Mueller
by Anees Mueller
April 25, 2022

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