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Target Practice: How strong brands handle a direct hit

When big box retailer Target took a direct hacker hit on the opening day of the busy holiday shopping season, it hurt. It hurt BIG. This wasn’t just a glancing blow, it struck deep at the credibility of the chain and at customers’ biggest fear: credit fraud and identity theft.

Target’s security breach was all over the news. So how did they react? Wrap up in a big towel, hide under a beach umbrella, big shades and a floppy hat. No! They were out loud and proud, sporting their Speedos, fully exposed, warts and all, diving into the fray.

Target C-levels got out in front with disclosure, cooperation with security and government agencies, and communication to customers about measures put in place to correct and rectify the situation. I did not see any denial or passing of the blame.

No doubt about it, they got plastered with criticism. “How could they have let this happen!” “Target wasn’t doing enough to secure customers’ data.” The thing is they are likely doing the same as, if not more than, most retailers to safeguard your security. And, they admitted the breach. How many others do you think were similarly hacked and said nothing?

Bad things happen to companies without warning. Survival depends upon how you prepare for and react to the challenge. Preemptive strategies, such as these, help you keep your brand reputation strong.

No one is bulletproof. While, like Target, you may suffer the slings and arrows of unhappy stakeholders and customers, advance planning can mitigate the damage and will help recover your brand reputation.


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