Being non-popular is not the same as being unpopular. Brands that are non-popular are simply not prepared to do whatever it takes to court popular favour. They do their own thing, their own way – and look to attract cult followings via like minds. But brands that have become unpopular have lost likeability. That’s a disturbing development if you’re trying to be liked by as many people as possible.
The hardest thing about seeking to be liked is that we all do business today in an environment where criticism is ubiquitous. The ability for anyone with an internet connection to not just hold an opinion but to broadcast that opinion to the world is freedom of speech on a good day and freedom to abuse on another day. At a time when it’s easier than ever for others to get the knives out, the problem it seems to me has shifted for those on the receiving end. The dilemma these days is less about what do the critics think and rather, which criticisms should you act on and which are you better to brush off as beneath your dignity?
While every brand will quite rightly set its own guidelines, there are some clear principles that make sense to me in terms of meeting the balance between maintaining reputation and over-reacting:
1. Hold firm on your purpose, your worldview and your values.
2. Debate priorities, opinions and options.
3. Initiate or at least participate in conversations about matters that have been raised that you believe have not been properly explored and to which you believe you can bring a refreshing perspective.
4. Encourage suggestions, feedback and criticism of experiences and service. (As long as you’re prepared to reply stating what you’re going to do about what’s happened.)
5. Acknowledge and apologise for mistakes, errors of judgment, accidents and cases where you have not been fair or consistent.
6. Redress scaremongering, inaccuracies, speculations, lies – and sometimes comparison wars and competitor taunts.
7. Acknowledge, even applaud, a witty joke or satire at your expense (depending on its cleverness)
8. Ignore idiots.
Photo of “Case of kris daggers 1” by Marshall Astor, sourced from Flickr