Brand damage can come from the most unexpected places

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20 Under 40: JenniferDessoye

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Dr. Jennifer Dessoye is assistant professor of occupational therapy at Misericordia University and owner of Bright Beginnings Early Learning Academy (BBELA). Discontent with the early education curriculum and understanding of human development and neurolo (read more)

20 Under 40: Amy Hlavaty Belcher

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Amy Hlavaty Belcher, 39, owner and artistic director of Abrabesque Academy of Dancing, believes that for those who have been given much, much is expected. “I just try hard to do my best,” she said. I have been blessed with many opportunities and many gift (read more)

20 Under 40: Christopher Hetro

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Chris Hetro, 33, works hard and plays hard. “A strong work ethic is important, but finding balance outside of work is important because life is too short and you need to enjoy it,” he explained. As an electrical engineer and project manager at Borton-Laws (read more)

20 Under 40: C. David Pedri

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For attorney C. David Pedri, 37, it’s all about a combination of qualities that contribute to success. “My philosophy is simple: be open and honest, treat people the way you would want to be treated, with respect, and work hard to attain your dreams. The (read more)

20 Under 40: Ed Frable

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Ed Frable, 28, believes “if I work hard and stick to my word, good things will happen. My crew will not be deterred. We will re-evaluate our game plan and not give up until the job is complete,” explained Frable, the owner/operator of Ed Frable Constructi (read more)

20 Under 40: William H. Bender II

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William H. Bender II, CFP, CIMA, CRPC, loves what he does. “I’m lucky. I come to work every day excited to help the people and institutions we work with,” explained Bender, 34, first vice president at Bender Wealth Management Group, Merrill Lynch. The fam (read more)

20 Under 40: Angelo Venditti

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Angelo Venditti, 38, heard a call to the helping professions early on. Geisinger Northeast’s chief nursing officer answer was to volunteer for his local fire company. After high school, he became a paramedic, then enrolled in nursing school. Three years a (read more)

20 Under 40: Donald Mammano

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At 20, Donald Mammano began his own company, while attending the University of Scranton. Mammano, now 33, and president of DFM Properties, recalls, as a youngster, holding a flashlight while his father fixed the kitchen sink. “From that point on I was fas (read more)

20 Under 40: William J. Fennie III

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William J. Fennie III, 27, is always knocking on the proverbial door, because he knows one day, one will open. As an investment specialist with Integrated Capital Management (iCM) he cannot take “no” for an answer. “I make cold calls every day to invite f (read more)

20 Under 40: Marcus Magyar

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As an advisor at CAPTRUST Financial Advisors, Marcus N. Magyar, CFP, 30, provides comprehensive wealth management and investment portfolio services to business owners, executives, families and high-net worth individuals. His multi-disciplinary team of pro (read more)

20 Under 40: Heather Davis

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Heather M. Davis, 33, director of marketing and communication, is responsible for creating, overseeing and implementing a strategic marketing and comprehensive communications plan for The Commonwealth Medical College (TCMC). She is also responsible for pr (read more)

20 Under 40: Alexandria Duffney

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Alexandria Duffney, 30, is competitive by nature and loves a good challenge. These qualities have led her to her position as associate director of graduate admission at Wilkes University. Here she works with prospective students interested in enrolling in (read more)

20 Under 40: John Culkin

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John Culkin’s tenets inform: “Less haste equal more speed; the same boiling water that softens the potato hardens the egg, it is all about what you are made of, not the circumstances surrounding you; and don’t ask someone to walk a mile in your shoes, bef (read more)

20 Under 40: Conor O'Brien

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“What could be worse than getting to the end of your life and realizing you hadn’t lived it,” mused Conor O’Brien.” As co-founder and executive director of the Scranton Fringe Festival, O’Brien, 25, is responsible for leading the development of the overal (read more)

20 Under 40: Jessica Siegfried

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Jessica Siegfried, 38, is senior designer with BlackOut Design Inc., where she is responsible for all creative design at the full-service agency, from traditional branding and print to collateral and front end web design. “I’ve always had an interest in t (read more)

20 Under 40: David Johns

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David Johns’ career path has been shaped by his diverse experiences. As director of structural engineering at Greenman-Pedersen Inc., Moosic, Johns, 39, ensures that his engineering and consultant teams provide clients with their best effort. “We complete (read more)

20 Under 40: Robyn Jones

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Robyn Jones, 38, president of ReferLocal LLC, has learned just as many lessons from her business successes as she’s had from her failures — and she believes it’s important to share that knowledge with her employees. After graduating from American Universi (read more)

20 Under 40: Nisha Arora

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Nisha Arora, 36, tries to be the best version of herself every day. As general counsel for ERA One Source Realty Inc., she realized she cannot control other’s behavior so “I try to focus on myself and how I can be better,” she explained. Arora’s responsib (read more)

20 Under 40: Justin Sandy

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Starting at a young age in Hazleton, Justin C. Sandy, 33, found a passion for running. He became a member then a coach for Misericordia University’s cross country and track and field programs. “It was at Misericordia that I also garnered the profound sati (read more)

20 Under 40: Dr. Ariane Conaboy

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As a doctor of internal medicine at Physicians Health Alliance, Dr. Ariane M. Conaboy, 34, realizes the importance of human life and how fragile it can be at times. Conaboy graduated from Scranton Prep and the University of Scranton with a double major in (read more)

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Photo: Matt Sayles/Matt Sayles/Invision/AP, License: N/A

Accounting firm PwC, which tallies the votes for the Academy Awards, took a hit to its brand when the firm’s US board chairman, Brian Cullinan, handed the wrong envelope to the presenters for Best Picture Award, Above are Oscar statues lined up backstage during the Awards in Los Angeles in 2014.(Photo by Matt Sayles/Invision/AP, File)

By Dave Taylor

To the question, “what is branding?” there is a frequent response, “it’s everything that you do as a brand.” So true. And, a corollary that could be added is, “whether or not it has anything to do with your product or service.” Brands really are holistic creatures. CEOs and board chairs know this, or at least they should. Two of them have recently learned that lesson the hard way.

A gentleman named Brian Cullinan recently boasted in a promotional video on his company’s website, referring to a service being provided to a well-known awards show, “I think it’s really symbolic of how we’re thought of beyond this role and how our clients think of us and I think it’s something we take very seriously and take a lot of pride in.”

Mr. Cullinan is the U.S. board chairman of PwC, formerly known as PricewaterhouseCoopers, the accounting firm that tallies the ballots for the Academy Awards and keeps the winners secret until the moment they are announced on stage. (By the way, PwC should be nominated for Worst Truncation of a Perfectly Good Brand Name, but I digress.) Mr. Cullinan is also the person who handed the wrong envelope to Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway, who then mistakenly declared “La La Land” the winner of the Best Picture Award.

Handing the correct envelope to a presenter would seem like a pretty simple task, certainly easier than actual corporate accounting, for instance, and, oh, snap…dude, didn’t you just say, “it’s really symbolic of…how our clients think of us?” Oh, yes, you did. And you were right.

Uber CEO Travis Kalanick is dealing with a rash of brand-damaging problems that have little to do with getting from point A to point B. His firm lost 200,000 accounts when they were perceived to be breaking the brief taxi strike at JFK Airport, there have been several accusations of sexual harassment within the Uber management structure and he was recently videotaped getting nasty with an Uber driver who complained to him (politely) about declining fares and increased restrictions on drivers.

Mr. Kalanick has apologized for his comments to the driver in the video and Mr. Cullinan has been dropped from future Oscars ceremonies. But the damage remains. PwC will recover from this public relations fiasco soon enough. Uber’s problems run deeper, but are not insurmountable. But think of the disproportionate amount of time that both companies have had to spend explaining their actions, measuring the fallout, creating responses, and planning ways to recover. Think also about the nagging bit of doubt that creeps into the minds of their clients or customers about the brand. “Did PwC get all the details right in that audit?” Or, “Maybe I’ll just use Lyft tonight, instead of Uber.”

For all the hard work and positive experiences that go into building a brand fast (in the case of Uber) or slow (in the case of PwC), seemingly innocuous little actions can cause inordinately damaging results. These events can take place on national television or in the back seat of a car, but if the world learns of them, it will judge the brand on what happened, like it or not.

Dave Taylor is president of Taylor Brand Group, a company that focuses on developing brand strategy and ongoing brand marketing. Based in Lancaster, Taylor Brand Group works with national and regional clients. He can be reached at 717-393-7343. Visit taylor brand group.com.

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