Weathering the Storm. Goldman Sachs and Toyota.

There are many brands we love to hate. Today’s bad-boy brands de rigueur are Goldman Sachs and Toyota. Sure, we constantly complain about some of the mega-brands like Microsoft, Simon Cowell, ExxonMobil, and the New York Yankees, etc. But that reaction is a combination of jealousy of their sheer market power and resentment that we can’t live without them.

The media has a way of adding fuel to the fire. Think about the Catholic Church, the Republican Party, and Tiger Woods. Still, the best advice for strong brands is to have a clear strategy, stay focused on what they do well, acknowledge and address the short-term “crises”, and let the storm clouds blow over.

Brands are made up of many tangible and intangible factors that, in total, affect perceptions and long-term growth. Branding professionals spend careers managing brands, and navigating the gusts of short-term events. Goldman has been caught between the confluence of the frustration of the general public on their outrageous earnings after government bail outs and negative press about possible fraud concerning CDO’s. So it is often easy to lose sight of the amazing financial performance Goldman has had for its clients and shareholders. Deep down, we know they are well a managed, strong, innovative and secure financial institution. So they are doing exactly what a market leader should do… keeping their head up and moving ahead. When this storm blows over, they will be in a very strong position.

Toyota has also been caught by a series of internal and philosophical mistakes. They knew about some product problems and didn’t come forward, and they exhibited a sense of recalcitrance in how they reacted. Fortunately, this behavior is changing. And this storm will blow over too, albeit it may be quite a long nor’easter.

My belief is that both brands will be stronger by having weathered the storms.