Even though the rapper formerly known as Kanye West has damaged his reputation this year with comments that many view as anti-Semitic, his brand and image can be restored with the right type of guidance, experts told Finurah.
West, who officially changed his name to Ye, began losing business deals this fall after he tweeted that he would go “death con 3 on Jewish people.” (The military status term is actually defcon 3 to indicate “increase in force readiness above normal readiness.)
Ye later said he lost $2 billion in corporate partnerships after the “death con 3” tweet. Companies like Adidas, Balenciaga, Gap and Peloton have ended relationships with the Chicago native.
The Yeezy creator dove deeper into controversy last month when he rocked a White Lives Matter shirt in public — enraging Black Americans across social media.
After losing the Adidas partnership, Ye said he knows what it’s like to have your neck stepped on like George Floyd.
The Possible Comeback
These steps back into grace can be done by nearly anyone who has had a business scandal.
Harvard Business Review examined the stories of various disgraced CEOs and leaders and found comebacks are indeed possible.
In an article dating back to 2007, the review reported, “we are convinced that leaders can triumph over tragedy, provided they take conscious steps to do so.”
According to the report, it is all in the comeback approach and how many people you have on your side during the comeback effort.
Keep in mind, says the piece, America loves a comeback story.
“If you cannot refute the facts of your dismissal, show authentic remorse. The public is enormously forgiving of genuine contrition,” it states.
Ye’s path back to corporate good graces begins with a full self-assessment, where he sits alone and evaluates who he believes himself to be, who the public believes he is and how he wants to be viewed in the future, said Aimee Hamilton, who teaches business management at the University of Denver.
After the assessment, Ye should start rebuilding the public’s trust through a series of successful transactions, said Hamilton, an image and reputation expert.
“Maybe it could be a drop where he says, like, text me at this special number and I’ll send you a snippet of a new song,” Hamilton said.
The transactions are important because they would give the public faith in Ye’s ability to consistently behave in a proper manner, Hamilton said.
Rebuilding Bridges and Brands
Once all that work is done, Ye would be in a great position to start rebuilding the bridges he has burned this year, Hamilton said. Going forward, he just needs to tread lightly in future business and partnership endeavors, she added.
“He doesn’t have to become a model citizen, but he just has to get back over the line of what’s tolerable and acceptable,” she said.
Ye wouldn’t be the first celebrity to work toward repairing their public image, Hamilton said. Other celebrities have publicly announced that they were seeking mental health counseling or checking into rehabilitation centers to address the root of their turbulent behavior, she noted.
Working to repair a celebrity’s image takes time and the bigger the public breach, the longer it takes to restore credibility, Hamilton said. In Ye’s case, as long as he’s truly committed to changing, he could probably repair his image in 18 to 24 months, Hamilton said.
What’s working in Ye’s favor is that his music, clothing and shoes have garnered a strong fanbase that hasn’t wavered much despite his insensitive comments. That means he still has a brand that’s valuable to large companies, Hamilton said.
“If he continues to be a talented artist, then I see no reason he couldn’t return to profitability with the deals and sponsorships and songs and other works,” Hamilton said. “I think we give artists a little more leeway to be erratic, but they have to be within the bounds of socially acceptable behavior.”