October 22nd, 2017 - Brand

Brand Apologies: When it’s good business to say you’re sorry

So I just got off the phone with Tyler.

Tyler works for an ultra-expensive mountain resort my hubby and I had booked with last weekend for a luxury get away. We were celebrating our anniversary and sneaking in a Canadian Rockies photo shoot for the Blackcoffee website.

Disappointingly, things didn’t go as expected.

From the heat not working in our room (ummm, October in the mountains … brrr) to a much needed conference room being double-booked (ahem … apparently more important people were given last minute priority despite our booking months in advance), we had a challenging couple of days instead of a luxury mini-vacay.

When I reached out to the resort on our return to share my experience and possibly provide some helpful feedback, I was hoping for some understanding and an apology. I’m still waiting (despite my chat with Tyler) and I’m scratching my head wondering why business people choke on the two little words … ‘I’m sorry.’

In business, we should want to make our customers happy. We should want to save their time and our own so we can cheerfully move on to the next thing on our list.

A true apology helps to put things right. ‘I’m sorry’ stops an argument from escalating and tells your customer …  ‘I hear you and I understand’.

‘I’m sorry’ is worth so much more than a begrudging refund diluted with excuses for bad service or quality. And it’s certainly going to take you further than any argument will. But an apology shouldn’t stop there. ‘I’m sorry’ is just the start.

A full apology sounds more like:

I’m sorry. I own this.

This is my responsibility.

A ball was dropped, I’ll stand accountable AND

I commit to fixing this.

Our customers know when we are on their side. They know when we are truly sorry for a misstep and they recognize when we are in their corner cheering them on.

Let’s face it. None of us are perfect. Things will go wrong. What matters is how we go about righting that wrong.

With gratitude,

Shannon Larkins

Inspired by a little blackcoffee

Some of my favourite moments are spent in search of something beautiful while I drink my first cup of coffee and hear the house wake up. From there I move on to the paper and the news of the day. In this space, I’ll share some of those inspirations.

Now that's some good advice

Articles, snippets, or videos that highlight what to do and what not to do in the always changing world of branding and design. 

By Taylor Holland @ Taylor Holland

When and How Should Brands Apologize?

Nobody is perfect. Neither is any brand. And there’s power in admitting that.
Years ago, I received a greeting card in the mail. The front of the card featured a picture of roses and simply said, “I’m sorry. I messed up. Please forgive me. I’ll do better, I promise.”

I was both confused and curious as I tried to figure out which family member or friend might have sent it. I hadn’t been in any recent arguments with anyone close to me, at least none that called for such a grand gesture.

When I opened it, I was surprised to find a message from my former internet provider, with whom I had recently canceled my less-than-stellar service. The card apologized for whatever had caused me to leave the company, asked for feedback about how the relationship could have been better, and offered a discounted rate if I came back.

It was simple but brilliant, and even a little humorous. So, while I didn’t go back to this provider immediately, I did eventually give them a second chance. And I have never forgotten that card.


Shannon Larkins

Founder, Blackcoffee Studio

Over the course of 15+ years, Shannon has grown Blackcoffee Studio out of a love for building brands and reputations. She serves up Blackcoffee as a morning ritual while caffeinating clients and readers on the regular. You can find her at www.BlackcoffeeStudio.com


Blackcoffee Studio

Blackcoffee is a premium brand development agency, offering luxury brand experience to clients at home in Calgary, Canada and around the globe. Brands create experience, set you apart from the competition and drive growth. Anyone can bulid a business but only the exceptional can create a brand. Are you ready?

Shannon Larkins

Shannon Larkins

Hi I’m Shannon, founder of Blackcoffee Studio. A former reporter, spin doctor and politico, I now focus on using my powers for good.

I create mighty brands for clients and share their stories with the world. I’m also rather addicted to my nutty family, dogs with pushed in faces, Mexico and of course coffee … black.