What do you do when your brand’s reputation—considered one of the best in the business—crashes, leaving damage that will take years to repair?
This is the situation Toyota was thrown into when it was forced to recall 9 million vehicles in the United States because of accelerator pedals that could become stuck or trapped by floor mats, potentially causing high-speed accidents.
Toyota even stopped sales, and it marshaled its social media resources to respond to the crisis, reassure customers and rebuild its good name.
The carmaker used platforms like Digg, Facebook and Twitter to respond to criticism at a time it was taking a beating from consumers, comedians and Congress. Along the way, it changed its corporate culture.
“The reputation damage is one of the hardest things to repair,” says Kimberley Gardiner, national interactive marketing manager, “because it gets back to what people perceive as what went wrong, what happened, how did they handle it? To rebuild that trust, and rebuild the sense of Toyota is a strong brand, it’s a long-lasting brand, it’s a brand that cares—those things take time.”