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Be a Sensitive Brand
By: Janet Kalandranis
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This week has been filled with devastation, loss, and survival. Hurricane Sandy took the east coast by storm and for some just provided an annoyance, but for others it took away their homes and their state. Many brands, like insurance companies, power companies, cable companies, and even credit card/bank companies, have been supporting customers and did so even before the destruction began. Customers not only need timely information, but they also appreciate the help — at least most brands were on the right track.

There were some brands that took this as an opportunity to have fun and provide discounts to customers. However, many people were not amused. A discount on clothes at a time when people don’t have power, let alone a place to stay, is not something that all followers will give a high-five. Brands need to understand what’s appropriate in certain situations; when to get involved and take an opportunity and when it’s better to stay back and be there just in case.

Was it inappropriate for American Apparel to offer a 20% discount for nine eastern states on Monday using the code SANDYSALE or was it just timely and relevant? Brands need to balance being quick and relevant with being sensitive and understanding the situation. Of course, some customers probably appreciated the discount, but others may now view the brand as insensitive. And Gap’s tweet to "stay safe and maybe do a little shopping at Gap.com" also brought about mixed emotions. How much is too much? Have brands really shifted towards understanding the customer and what’s important to them?

Sure, brands need to take a stance on various items, but there are certain situations when they need to step back, take a moment, and plan how to react. Customers want brands to do what they expect — no surprises. Brands need to become a person, act emotionally, and ultimately just be reasonable. If it sounds insensitive, then it probably is.

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About the Author
Janet Kalandranis is here to give you all the little brand thoughts that run through her head with a little dash of spice. Find her online here.
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