What we can Learn from Samsung and the Explosive Note 7

Highly anticipated by tech enthusiasts around the world, the consumer debut of the Samsung Note 7 was expected to make headlines- just not these headlines:

“Samsung recalls Galaxy Note 7 Worldwide Due to Exploding Battery Fears” – The Verge (9/2)

“Samsung Shares Plummet as Note 7 Debacle Deepens” – CNN Money (9/12)

“A Samsung Note Actually Exploded on an Airplane” – Vice (10/5)

While the issue of exploding batteries was certainly catastrophic in itself, Samsung made sure to make the best reactive decision they could – they recalled all (2.5 million) phones globally. With all things considered, a company’s response during a crisis is what defines them.

Anyone can make a mistake; it happens all the time – it’s almost inevitable. What separates companies who make these mistakes from their competitors is the way they handle it, and successful brand messaging demonstrated by Samsung’s immediate recall, is what keeps customers loyal.

What do we mean?

The average customer is less objective than you may think – many choose their desired brand for reasons other than the ideal “this product/service is more practical for me” approach. Brands (especially global brands like Samsung) have associated personalities that convey a certain feel, and their reactions in time of crisis speak volumes. For example, how would you feel if you realized you had been lied to? If a brand experiences conflict, does not make the issue public, and does not take immediate steps to remediate, what does that convey about their personality? It means their brand cannot be trusted, and people who favored that brand will likely switch their loyalties as well.

Samsung has recently branded itself with the concept of ‘innovation’ as seen on Younghee Lee’s (Samsung Marketing Executive) Adweek interview months prior to the incident. Samsung’s branding included a ‘bold attitude’, which was backed up when they recalled 2.5 million phones (losing a lot of money in the process). The speedy recall also demonstrated Samsung’s care and concern for their customers. Many brands advertise that they care, but few show it.

The Moral of the Story

While a crisis like this is unfortunate, it does not always mean financial ruin through loss of consumer confidence, if handled properly. Sticking to your branding through good times and bad helps communicate your true colors to your stated demographic, and true fans will respect it. While Samsung’s batteries might have failed them, their public relations division stepped up bigtime!