How to handle a brand crisis: Pai Pai tells us how he dealt with 'cancellation'

February 11, 2021 7 min read

This article was translated from our Spanish edition using AI technologies. Errors may exist due to this process.

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

  • Mistakes are what will teach you how to continue growing and strengthening yourself as a brand.

If there is something that you have to take good care of when you are an entrepreneur, it is the reputation of your brand. This remains and represents the values of the company and the trust that consumers have towards it. But, from the largest companies to the small SMEs, they can have moments of crisis and put their prestige at stake. No one is exempt, but you can learn from it.

At the end of the day, we are humans and not robots who manage, build and make our little offspring grow: the brand.

The Pai Pai case

A few months ago, the Mexican beauty brand Pai Pai launched three shadow palettes, which is known for alluding to the traditions and culture of the country and in this way names its products as Christmas Eve, sphere, punch, horchata, peony, cempasúchil, copal, cocoa, among others.

However, part of the eyeshadow collection included the A la Mexicana palette, which contained earth tones in yellow, brown, gray and red. But these had names that did not appeal to the general audience and as a consequence caused a negative response. In the networks they are branded as classist and racist by calling the lighter tone “norteña” and the darker “southern”, that is, regionalize.

The result? A brand crisis

The million dollar question; How to manage a crisis that you did not know was going to come? If we open the panorama, 2020 was a year of unexpected events for everyone, not only in health, but also economically. Managing a company in that context is already daunting, now it adds an image problem, it becomes the nightmare of any entrepreneur.

Karen Rodarte , one of the founders of Pai Pai, and Andrea Ibagüengoitia and they told us how they handled the crisis and the steps to follow to work on preventing it from happening again.

Image: Pai Pai via Instagram

Thinking about consumers

For Karen the first and most important step is to always put herself in the consumer’s shoes. “The main thing for us is them. Our community, because in the end they are our family ”.

Take actions

For many companies, the easiest thing to do is keep quiet, wait for the fury of the moment to pass and wait for it to be forgotten. However, for entrepreneurs this can mean a huge loss, because everything has been built brick by brick and their “offspring” cannot give up.

The companies that prevail are the ones that act. That is what Pai Pai did, realizing what was happening on the networks, they took action and issued statements explaining the situation, offering a sincere apology to all who could feel offended and talk about the issue: racism.

“We read all the comments we received and it was that we began to do analysis and created a new email called where we open so that they can express themselves openly by writing to us and commenting on any issue they have doubts or are uncomfortable about they would like to know, ”explains Karen in an interview for Entrepreneur in Spanish . “We showed our faces and did not hide.”

Get advice

Pai Pai approached CONAPRED, says Rodarte, especially with Dr. Patricio Solis, the coordinator against discrimination. “You have to get advice, understand the situation and start from there.”

“We understood the mistake and made a decision; remove the product ”, comments the entrepreneur. “The entire Pai Pai team took a course to be well advised on the current situation. In addition to analyzes and workshops on the products and the names of the brand ”.

Karen and Andrea have one goal: to be inclusive in everything from including people from the LGBT community, to displaying all products in different skin tones. But, Karen admits there is still a lot more to work on.

What to do to avoid panic?

Seeing that your company is attacked from all sides by the audience, it is very easy to panic. Given this, Karen Rodarte shared some tips:

  1. Before making any decision you have to be calm. You can’t decide if you’re desperate, distraught, stressed, or angry – ever. First you have to calm down and breathe deeply.
  2. Ask for help from the experts. Although we as founders know the brand, why and that at no time was it created with fraud, we must raise our hands and ask for help. In the end as entrepreneurs we do not know everything. We start with passion but not with all the knowledge, we continue to learn every day.
  3. Channel the situation very well. You have to analyze the extent to which the problem reached. Because many times we see it very large and the same is not the case or vice versa, we see it very small and it is huge. As today we live in a digital age, we must monitor all social networks, and with this data we can take action.

In the end, every bad experience is learning

Humans make mistakes; leaders recognize them and make decisions. A company that is honest and true to its values will remain in the minds of consumers. Karen appreciates that despite the bad time for the brand, “her offspring”, from all the crises something good comes.

“Having had this crisis, people see us as a very big brand, and we are. With that amount of response, our consumer who loves us was always taking care of us, protecting us and defending us. And those who did not know us, did, while those who noticed us because they were angry, in the end they reached the mark. We know that in the future if we continue to do things well, they will want to be part of our community ”, says the entrepreneur.

“In the end, it is to see how to turn that traffic into something positive.”

As entrepreneurs we continue to learn a little more every day and crises, fortunately or unfortunately, are the best lessons that can be learned in practical business life.

“The learning of all this is to see beyond what your eyes can see. In other words, our team did not see that error, so we have to reach out to more people, ask for help and find out what else there is ”.

The brand has always named its products that allude to Mexican culture. However, they will now be more careful with the names they attribute to Mexico.

“When we named them, we did not do it to regionalize but because they reminded us of travel, iconic things in the area such as tequila, the foundries, to which we alluded. It was never with a bad intention, ”explains Rodarte.

The brand created in 2013 by our two friends, Karen Rodarte and Andrea Ibagüengoitia, will continue to look ahead and face obstacles with heads held high. “Today we are still unemployed, we take the crisis, we stood up and we continue with all the Pai Pai projects.”

Image: Pai Pai via Instagram

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