May 6, 2022 – 15:00
From peak to limbo. There are countless stories of companies with this type of trajectory, so explored by Hollywood. Recently, one of them has stood out not only for the performances of the protagonists Anne Hathaway and Jared Leto, but also for the curious story itself.
The WeCrashed series, played on Apple TV, chronicles the rise and fall of what was once the world’s third most valuable private company, WeWork. In addition to showing topics very common to startups, such as investments, expansion, growing pains, burnout, among others, it shows how the eccentricity of founder Adam Neumann was, at the same time, inspiring and harmful to the company.
More importantly, the story exposes an increasingly pervasive market understanding for innovative brands: brand reputation is essential for any company, particularly startups.
As well as creating a reputation, which requires a Herculean effort from agencies and communicators over the long term, maintaining this image is crucial for the survival of any company. Below, I list five of the main lessons learned from this story that can be used by startups and innovation companies.
1- Build a narrative
Companies with solid reputations go further. With the understanding of being a long-term investment, image building requires patience and consistency. Therefore, the elaboration of an assertive narrative aligned with the brand values is one of the best strategies, especially for companies in early stage.
2 – Don’t attach a brand to just one person
Amazingly, this mistake is very common for brands with strong leads. Yes, image building for executives and spokespersons is essential for any company. The mistake is in limiting this to just one person. A mark is made by many thinking heads. Therefore, a brand being recognized by more than one of its leaders helps to mitigate any personal crisis that may erupt.
3 – Listen to your agency
Surrounding yourself with people who are subject matter experts is not enough. You need to hear them. In addition to technical knowledge, these professionals have years of experience in communication and crisis, knowing the shortcuts to any strategy. Trust the process.
4- Respect your investors
For entrepreneurs, one of the greatest satisfactions is to idealize a concept and apply it in a product or service. When another person or company not only believes in, but decides to financially invest in your company’s idea, their opinions must be respectfully considered. After all, for every investment there is an expectation of financial return. Being judicious in choosing this financial partner and maintaining transparent communication is the key to avoiding crises.
5 – Consistency with employees
There is no point in having a narrative that shows equality and being an unequal company. Many startups worry about the perception the brand will have outside, before looking inside. Remember, being an authentic company with what you believe in is what will engage not only investors and the market, but also your employees.