Even as Snapchat CEO denies his ‘poor India’ remark, online marketplace Snapdeal got caught in crossfire — thanks to netizens confusing it with Snapchat. BrandWagon asks experts how a brand can use such unwarranted attention to its advantage.
‘Snapdeal must leverage virality’
I think there might be some negative rub-off at the moment on Snapdeal as people confuse it for Snapchat but this will be temporary. Just like how social media spread the news of the Snapchat CEO’s comment, it has also spread the news of this mix-up and things should get corrected in a while. In fact there are already early signs of it with people realising the mistake and openly castigating people who are rating Snapdeal. With media coverage, this trend should be reversed soon.
However, this presents a unique opportunity for Snapdeal. It has been handed on a platter viral content (something every brand struggles to make) and even though it is at the wrong end of it, some clever communication can help it leverage this tide in its favour. It can use the anger against Snapchat to portray Snapdeal in a positive light; it can remind people how they are the good guys or it can do a campaign around name recognition that will help people remember who Snapdeal is. Think of the memes going around when the United Airlines issue broke out and how this portrayed other airlines in a better light. That is just one way. Snapdeal could tie promos around the issue and pretty much extract every ounce of mileage possible. It will make the brand seem like an agile one with a sense of humour. All in all, this is a great opportunity for the brand to ride a wave of mainstream opinion and swing it in its favour. But this needs to be done swiftly.
‘Use the slump to create brand recall’
In the wake of widespread backlash on an unverified statement by the Snapchat CEO, a majority of the Indian audience has been quite impatient to speak out their opinions; they not only failed to verify the source, but also ended up directing their criticism to Snapdeal, a brand that wasn’t involved in the incident.
The lack of emphasis on verification of the news has led Snapdeal to receive negative reviews and suffer multiple app uninstallations. This Snapdeal-Snapchat fiasco is an apt example on why people should not take action on the basis of half-baked knowledge. During such instances, the brand that receives undue backlash will be faced with the need to engage in reparations. Issuing a public statement to address the misinformed netizens can be a first step. However, it is also important for the affected brand to ensure that audiences begin to associate its name with a positive image. They can use the slump to rebuild the brand, ensure enhanced brand retention in minds of the people and reduce the possibility of such future slip-ups.
While fake news cannot be wiped out completely, readers can be urged to show proper discretion while receiving information. When it concerns the reputation of the brand, it is important for the brand to be vigilant and take measures to curb it in real time. As results can tamper with the reputation of the brand, they need to act fast and any time lapse cannot be afforded on the internet.
‘Silence is not an option today’
Brands need to take the onus to differentiate themselves — precisely for the reason Snapdeal faced social ire due to Snapchat issues. Consumers think by association and having the same half-word in both brand names creates confusion. In the current situation, Snapdeal needs to reassure its customers through communication and through aggressive PR about its values. Most of all, its own website must have a message from the promoters about its commitment to the Indian consumer. At the time of writing this, there was nothing on the Snapdeal website to address this issue. Ideally, there should be a video of promoters/CEOs dealing with the issue head-on. Silence is not an option today.
Brands can prevent such situations by ensuring their brand is unique in more ways than one. First, by ensuring a unique name. Often brands confuse a category descriptor with a brand name. Snapdeal is a category descriptor. Amazon is a metaphoric brand name while Pepperfry and Paper Boat are able create a uniqueness that makes them unmistakable as brands. Second, own the brand beyond the name. For example, Snapdeal could use the idea of ‘snap’ to create a property around snapping of fingers. The visual and auditory action can become a strong brand association for Snapdeal. It needs to stand for a lot more than ‘deals’ to become a brand.
— Compiled by Ankita Rai and Shinmin Bali