This week luxury brand Christian Dior fired star designer John Galliano for making anti-Semitic comments. The incident provides some important lessons about managing a brand in today’s fast moving media world.
Lesson 1: It is very easy to damage a brand.
An apparently drunk Mr. Galliano said some highly inappropriate things while out one evening. The comments were captured on video and it is now quickly spreading around the internet. The video does not do good things for the Galliano brand. He is now out of a job and his personal brand will be forever tainted.
Lesson 2: Brand leaders need to move quickly to deal with issues.
You have to give Dior credit for quickly responding to the issue. The video became public on Monday and on Tuesday Christian Dior fired Galliano. This fast response limits the damage to the Dior brand; it is clear that Dior doesn’t approve of his comments.
You can read the Dior press release here (in French):
Lesson 3: It is important to get ahead of the story.
Yesterday Women’s Wear Daily reported that Natalie Portman issued a statement condemning Galliano:
“I am deeply shocked and disgusted by the video of John Galliano’s comments that surfaced today,” stated Portman. “In light of this video, and as an individual who is proud to be Jewish, I will not be associated with Mr. Galliano in any way. I hope at the very least, these terrible comments remind us to reflect and act upon combating these still-existing prejudices that are the opposite of all that is beautiful.”
Portman is a spokesperson for Dior. By quickly condemning Galliano she clearly distances herself from the issue and enhances her brand.
All of this highlights the importance of understanding the values behind a brand. When faced with fast-moving situations, brands with clear values can respond quickly and limit the damage.