In May I wrote about branding lessons learned from Goldman Sachs. This company has an illusive communications strategy that is not working very well in 2010 as the ever-evolving “new consumer” is changing the way that companies interact with the public. After a very public legal dispute with the S.E.C. that has taken its toll on Goldman’s reputation, the firm has decided to settle for $550 million. Goldman began the battle with a strong statement that it would fight the allegations, but eventually took the same route it usually takes – non-admission of wrongdoing, statement of guilt and a hefty fine. It’s a win-win for the parties involved, but this time Goldman’s high pillar isn’t enough to protect it from being chipped down.
The settlement signals a change that was caused by something that Goldman didn’t forecast. You would think that with all of the talent in the firm they would have an understanding of the modern consumer and how the impact of public perception affects a company. The evolution of information sharing alone should have already impacted the Goldman’s communications style, but I guess a firm that doesn’t do marketing has an excuse for not knowing something that any good marketer would know – people have the power to knock you off of your pillar.
The take-away here is evolution. No strategy lasts forever. You have to evolve and continually pair research and observations to see where your brand is going and how it needs to evolve. And when your brand is in trouble, only pick the battles you can win. Goldman has not evolved since the boom years, and is running a risk that cannot be hedged. This new print ad campaign that I’ve been hearing about doesn’t seem sufficient to help them either.