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The economic value of crisis management.

Interbrand just released its annual ranking of the Top 100 most valuable global brands.  The usual suspects made the Top 10 – e.g., Coke, IBM, McDonalds, GE, Microsoft and Disney.

This year, while looking at how Toyota and BP fared, the study made me think about the value of crisis management.  Both brands faced a major crisis of consumer confidence.  Toyota suffered through problems with sudden acceleration and customer fatalities, made even worse by the company's slow and confused response.  BP created an epic environmental disaster, and then had its CEO make matters worse by having us feel as though we were inconveniencing his summer holidays.

So how did each do in this year's ranking? Toyota dropped from the Top 10 to the #11 position, while BP dropped off the list all together.

Why did Toyota's brand value hold up better than that of BP?  Certainly years spent building brand equity and consumer trust worked in Toyota's favor.   And despite Toyota's halting initial response, it did something smart by deciding to offer its advanced STAR safety system as a standard no-cost feature on all models.  This showed great insight because, even though Toyota's problem was one of sudden acceleration, the emotional issue in play was a feeling of being vulnerable and unsafe.

And BP?  It ran ads.

If ever there was a case to be made why we need to consistently invest in brand equity – through a mix of product, service and advertising – this is it; particularly when we see how quickly a brand's economic value can evaporate.