Crisis Containment Could Empower Brands

Consumer demand for security is top-of-mind among marketing professionals, but few have taken measures to secure corporate data or to inform customers of their efforts. The “Secure the Trust of Your Brand: How Security and IT Integrity Influence Corporate Brands” report released by the CMO Council looks at how marketers address security issues and prepare for crisis containment.

Corporate data breaches, identity theft, and Internet fraud concern a majority of online consumers; a point made clear in the first portion of the study. No matter the measures taken by corporations to prevent security breaches, only 29 percent of marketers say there’s a crisis containment plan in place at their companies should data be leaked.

Does your company have a specific crisis containment plan for security break-ins or failures?
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“Companies need to take steps to first of all get a good security system and policy in place for customers, and make sure policies have been gone over internally with employees, and have a crisis plan in place in case something does happen,” said Scott Van Camp, editorial director of the CMO Council.

A crisis containment plan includes every response from the company stemming from a particular problem, as well as products and services offered to customers affected by the breach. A recent example is ChoicePoint, a credential verification and risk management company that experienced a security breach. In response, the company set up a special informational Web site and offered a free credit check for those affected by the breach.

“They were pretty responsive, and pretty much able to negate some of the brand trust they lost,” said Van Camp.

Does Security and IT integrity provide an opportunity for competitive brand differentiation in your industry?
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Data integrity offers brands an opportunity to differentiate themselves from competitors. Close to 60 percent of marketers believe enforcing security and IT boosts a brand, compared to 21 percent who think it doesn’t have an effect. While marketers recognize the importance, security has yet to be used in company messaging in a meaningful way. About 60 percent of marketers don’t include security updates in marketing communications. Only 37 percent of marketers leverage actions their companies have taken toward tighter security in their messaging.

Has Security become a more significant theme in your company's messaging, positioning and marketing communications during the past few years?
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“We think that marketers can use security as a competitive differentiator because security’s becoming such a big issue now,” said Van Camp. If they have a robust security plan, they can tout that in their messaging more.”

The study was produced in collaboration with Symantec and Factiva. It includes major surveys of corporate executives, marketers, and customers, including a survey of over 2,000 consumers in North America and Europe, and in-depth discussions with marketing executives from the study’s advisory board. The published report also includes studies published by Factiva and the Zyman School of Brand Science at Emory University’s Goizeuta Business School.

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