Can small businesses learn lessons from the VW nightmare?

Events this week have seen another car giant fall spectacularly from grace amid reports of rigged software to manipulate emissions testing on a grand scale. VW has admitted 11 million vehicles worldwide are involved. And while this centres around testing in the USA, it has undoubtedly changed opinions across Europe and will continue to affect its future worldwide sales for quite some time as car buyers spend their money with more trustworthy motor brands. So good news for the competition.


It’s a nightmare scenario for any business to wake up one morning and find its reputation in tatters. But what lessons can we, as small businesses, learn from this?

Here at Avid Creative our business is building brands for our clients through thoughtful design, regular communications and pertinent messaging. This consistency builds consumer brand confidence. Our clients’ customers know what to expect in terms of service, product and after care because of a cohesive approach. Something which VW has, up to now, been very good at.

So as a business you need to set and deliver on customer expectations. If you set out to deceive and if that deception becomes public knowledge, everything you’ve built up in terms of your brand reputation will come to nothing. A valuable lesson learnt this week at VW.

But the big brands do have an advantage. They have a loyal customer base who may forgive; senior management can be blamed and shipped out for a ‘new broom’ to come in and sweep clean, reset expectation and repair reputation. But as a small business, you are both your brand and your reputation so while there might be less of a media frenzy, alienated customers and word of mouth could spell the end of your business overnight.

We strongly believe that being honest and open in dealings with business partners and stakeholders is paramount and, if issues do arise, they must be dealt with quickly and robustly to limit damage and restore faith. Small businesses are more agile so we can be more responsive than large, multinational corporations who have systems and processes to go through before statements can be given and remedial action taken.

For us, having an up front contract where all parties are clear about the purpose, objectives and desired outcomes of a project means we can set and manage client expectations – and we work hard to meet, and exceed, them.

If you’d like to work with an agency that thrives on openness, call us on 01420 568127 or visit our contact page and let’s talk about building a brand with real values.

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