Being a brand is hard, being a person is hard, in 2016 it seems like we’re all balancing on a tightrope with only our big toe. Make a mistake, and you bet someone will be there to point it out. You’re being watched and criticized more than ever before. You know, Benjamin Franklin said “by failing to prepare, you’re preparing to fail”, but I like to think of it as “anticipating crisis”. This might make you feel like a debbie-downer (or me sound like a pessimist), but it’s crucial to think about the potential opportunities for failure so that you can swiftly avoid them and be successful.

While it’s important to be the person that takes creative risks, it’s also important to be the person who analyzes the situation for possible holes. Unless you have both of these people on your team, you need to be both of these people. A system of checks and balances is crucial to executing creative campaigns successfully. Failure can come in many forms, it can be an external crisis that affects your campaign, it can be poor planning and it can be sheer negligence. Unfortunately, there are too many ways to fail. Fortunately, you can prepare for failure.

(Don’t be this guy)


Observation is a great practice that can help you in an exponential amount of ways, including avoiding a crisis for your brand. Keep a close eye on what brands around you are doing, both online and off. You’re likely to see some faux pas that could have easily been avoided. To me, the best observations are made when you start to see trouble unfold, but then the community manager/staff member is able to spin the situation to be positive and build trust.

Look for holes

It’s easy to point out what others are doing wrong, but looking for holes in your own strategy? That’s hard. Just like editing your own writing, you should always have an outsider look things over and examine for possible failures.

Have a contingency plan

This is arguably the most important thing you need to discuss with your team prior to executing a marketing campaign. When things go wrong, what do you do? There’s really no time to sit and think about the best course of action, you need to have a crisis strategy ready to implement immediately. Do you have one? If you don’t, work with your team to set up guidelines for when disaster hits. It’s kind of like figuring out the fire escape routes in case of a fire, we hope you never have to use them but we want you to be prepared just in case.
Think you’re too good to fail? If these major brands have done it, you can too.