By Jeanie Hendrie

The year’s end serves as a natural time of reflection. It’s a time to pause; to look back before moving forward. Writing this, I’m reminded of a concept that’s been discussed with increasingly frequency around our office – the concept of failing forward  (in simplest terms, choosing to learn from your failures instead of ruminating in them). Beyoncé aside, perfection is basically impossible. So the notion of failing forward, while sounding a tad cutesy, is actually quite powerful. It demands reflection, questioning, acceptance – practices that many of us are forced to overlook in favour of decisiveness, confidence and delivery. And like any student of marketing, I see not only how this concept applies to us as humans but how it can have a powerful impact on brands.

2016, like every other year, has yielded many opportunities for reflection. While we could all probably afford to spend more time luxuriating in the great decisions we’ve made this year, reflection tends to factor most after periods of crisis. The pieces in this month’s newsletter illuminate recent examples of crisis across 4 facets of our society – celebrity, sports, film and brands. They seek not only to inform but to codify the dos and don’ts, and there are different lessons to be learned from each.

From celebrity crisis, we learn the role of personal brand and the power of forgiveness. People want to buy what their idols are selling and the stronger that image is, the more understanding they are afforded.

From sports, we’re reminded of the risk of waning. In particular, the NFL teaches us that burying a seemingly individual problem can allow it morph into something much larger, pervasive and systematic.

From Hollywood film, we see the power of storytelling matched by the frustration of inaction.

Lastly from brands, we learn the importance of urgency, accountability, transparency and resolution. Like the 12 step program, skipping one of these 4 can cause consumer loyalty to crumble like a house of cards.

Our company purpose is to help others succeed and when we can’t do that – for others, ourselves or our brands – we’re learning how to help them fail forward. The year’s end serves as a natural time of reflection.