This week Dolce & Gabbana shared their thoughts on non-traditional families in Italy’s Panorama magazine, which has caused quite a backlash. Domenico Dolce and Stefano Gabbana were coming out of their tax evasion scandal last year and here they go out of the frying pan and into the fire.

What are the other rules?

The 1st rule of branding is to know what you are uniquely good at and then to find the right audience (rule #2). Then, provided you can keep that “fit” between value proposition and audience – the 3rd rule is DO NOT ALIENATE YOUR AUDIENCE. Then keep going back to rule #1, stay unique and stay relevant.

It is important to demonstrate relevance as a noise-breaker, however in this case, Dolce & Gabbana may have gone too far. So far, major stars are making statements by boycotting the fashion house. Elton John, Courtney Love, and Ryan Murphy have all come out and retaliated online.

Be Provocative, Not Polarizing.

It is important to push the boundaries of conversation and thinking, but in some cases, brands can be polarizing and alienate customers. People of course do this too. Think about tweets we have “heard around the world” about Sasha and Malia Obama, which resulted in serious consequences.

Before you start sharing your thoughts, whether in twitter, or in a magazine interview, be really thoughtful and think through the consequences. What is the best case – what is the worst case – and should you still say what you think?

Recovering from a Brand Crisis.

When brands make a mistake, the first thing they should do is quickly assess the situation, damage, and scenarios. Then apologize ASAP. However, the question here is, how do you apologize for this? Although they did give a mea culpa on Sunday, it is clear that was a forced effort to diffuse the situation.

“It was never our intention to judge other people’s choices. We do believe in freedom and love,” said Gabbana.” We firmly believe in democracy and the fundamental principle of freedom of expression that upholds it,” he added.

The Dolce & Gabbana perspective is an opinion that is very personal and has serious repercussions. There may not be enough time in the world for them to recover from this with certain parts of their audience.

Lately, when you think about individuals who at least came forward to address the topic, Hillary Clinton comes to mind with her use of personal email. It took her 8 days to come forward and respond. Some argue this was too long, especially those in her party.

What is Your Reputation Strategy?

Sit down with your leadership team and build out your reputation strategy. Be intentional about what your reputation is today, continually listening, and managing it. Develop and Implement a proactive and reactive approach to consistently assessing and delivering on your reputation.

Be your best self,
Jen Dalton