Olympus: Brand crisis of Olympic proportions

November 11, 2011

Deception and cover up as a brand management strategy isn’t recommended for the long-term health of a corporation’s reputation.

When Olympus president Takayama-san bowed at the press conference this week, he was not only reflecting on the crisis that has befuddled this company but may have made it worse by not coming clean with the facts and instead deferring answers to a future report by outside experts.

The problems for the Olympus corporate brand may have started as early as 2007 when both “Familiarity” and “Favorability” measures began a steep decline that are unlikely to rebound based on this week’s revelations.

According to a CoreBrand quantitative research study among business decision makers the “Brand Power” ranking of Olympus improved steadily from a low of 31, in 2001, to a high of 47, in 2006. This is an impressive feat for any corporation intent on building its reputation. In 2007, however, the company brand started an equally dramatic decline and has now dropped to a Brand Power score of 32, in 2011.

Both Familiarity and Favorability led to the increases in Brand Power. While both Familiarity and Favorability scores have declined since 2007, it was the dramatic drop in Familiarity that had the greatest effect on the brand’s loss of Brand Power. Familiarity was 66, in 2007, and dropped to 49, in 2011, which leads to one big question…why did Olympus stop communicating?

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