What Can You Learn From Chipotle About Rescuing Your Brand?


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Business success relies on an innovative product or service that effectively catches the attention of your market. But it also relies upon maintaining your reputation and a bond of trust with your customers.

As long as customers have trust in your brand, they will continue to flock to your product or service. That means continued prosperity and longevity for your business.

But what if a major issue arises resulting in the bond of trust with your customers being broken? What can you do to recapture that trust and restore your brand in the eyes of your fans and followers?

For ideas, look no further than the recent efforts of Mexican food chain Chipotle as the company struggles to rebuild its image after a series of food quality and safety issues came to light.

In 2015, Chipotle was forced to report a series of food poisoning issues. Outbreaks of E. coli, Salmonella and Norovirus were reported in Oregon State, all linked to food contamination at the restaurant chain. The Mexican grill boasts using only the freshest and locally produced ingredients. The company was also among the first to reject genetically modified (GM) food.

Trust and Commitment

So Chipotle’s early commitment to fresh and genetically unmodified ingredients had allowed the company to develop an incredibly strong bond of trust with its customers. In the world of business, these inter-related ideas of commitment and trust are crucial to how a brand markets itself to its target audience. And a brand’s success is related to the strength of that bond.

Every business should aim to build this relationship with its customers. But in 2015, that trust was suddenly and very publicly shattered as details arose about the food contamination issue.

Chipotle’s Move

Though the chain has already officially apologized, it was felt more was needed to rebuild the company’s all-important bond of trust with customers.

To this end, Chipotle announced plans to close all of its stores across the country this coming February 8 for several hours to conduct a meeting on food safety. The meeting will involve all of the company’s staff and will look not only at food quality but at other company issues too.

Chipotle has over 2,000 restaurants. All will be involved in the shutdown. According to the company’s communications director Chris Arnold, Chipotle will be taking the time to thank its employees for their hard work in these trying times.

Employees will then learn about changes in the company’s enhanced food safety plan.

Bouncing Back

Responding swiftly to issues that place a company’s brand at risk is the best bet when trying to minimize that risk. For example, Chipotle’s swift reaction goes beyond a mere apology and demonstrates the seriousness of the company’s resolve.

Counter-measures to recover a brand’s reputation and reassure customers are so important. So what might you do to recover customer trust and credibility at your business in a similar situation?

Chipotle Photo via Shutterstock

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Jonha Richman


Jonha Richman Jonha Richman is a Staff Writer for Small Business Trends covering apps, ecommerce and new business models. She draws on her 8-year background developing digital media strategies for tech companies and consumer goods companies. She contributes to other sites including Business Insider and Fast Company. You may connect with her on LinkedIn and Twitter.

2 Reactions

  1. Martin Lindeskog

    Is this a deja vu moment a la Starbuck and Schultz closing down all the coffee places for one day, going back to basics?

  2. I remember when this happened, there was a shut down in the Chipotle in our area. It was a big shocker but the most important thing was to make sure everyone was safe and that Chipotle had things under control. Some of my friends and I wanted to go there but then we saw it on FB how the outbreak took the nation by storm. For them to take quick action in the apology and now to take massive action on the shutdown is saying enormous things about the company. Kudos and we look forward to the positive responses from your plan of action. Good post!

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