Sony’s recent security nightmare that potentially let the personal data of more than 100 million customers fall into the hands of hackers is a bigger problem than I think Sony fully understands.
Sure, the immediate solution is to cull the damage from the security breach, make sure it does not happen again, and find some way to restore the confidence lost. The more critical question is where does Sony go from here? Restoring consumer confidence is difficult. In Sony’s case, restoring confidence is compounded by both by context and the promise of the brand.
Lets face it, there is the potential for a security breach or “cyber attack,” as Sony is calling it, to occur with any company. Even if Sony made their security systems 100% secure, Sony would have a very difficult time proving that to the millions of Playstation network users and other Sony customers that lost their data. You see, little will change from the perspective of the customer, other than Sony showing a splash screen saying, “We have secured your data. We promise this time.” From the user’s perspective, there will be no physical structure they can experience that will make them more comfortable.
This context hampers Sony’s ability to restore confidence. I guess Sony is really asking its customers to make.believe. Which brings me to my second point.
Sony’s brand promise is to believe “an thing you can imagine you can make real” which is summed up by its tagline, “make.believe.” With a brand statement like this, Sony is telling consumers, “Imagine what you want, we will help make it real.” Well, for the 100 million folks who had their data stolen, I am sure they imagined Sony, being the tech company it is, had systems in place to protect the data protected in fulfillment of its promise to “make it real.” Sadly, this was not the case.
What is most troubling about this is that Sony’s damage control mode has not included “brand damage control” as well. The Sony brand may suffer irreparable damage because its brand promise doesn’t protect it from the crisis because Sony hasn’t explained how taking care of the problem is a fulfillment of the brand promise.
Remember, when a crisis hits your organization, if you really make.believe in your brand, then you must exploit it to control the damage from the crisis. BP failed to do it, now Sony is failing to do it as well.