Can you handle the way they handle your brand?

You might try to control your brand, but you can’t control life.

OK. So much for the clichés.

The tricky thing is, you want your brand to be a part of your consumers’ life. And not only do you want it to be a part of it, you want it to be a fundamental part of their lives.

But if it has to be a part of your consumers’ lives, can you live with the way they live their lives? Can you live with the way they handle, perceive and promote your brand?

These are fundamental questions you need to ask yourself.

Last Friday the Globe and Mail had an interesting story about a very popular Guinness commercial on the internet. It turned out the commercial was made by fans, not by the company. All you see is the curveline of a naked woman’s back. One hand puts a bottle of Guinness on her back, another hand, clearly from another man, takes it away. So yes, it’s about two men sharing a woman and a Guinness. Or two.

In spite of its immense popularity, Guinness was not pleased with the commercial. The company quickly issued a statement to put things right and ordered youtube and other videosites to take down the commercial.

That’s a dangerous thing to do.

Issuing a statement and saying the commercial is not yours is fine, but taking control of people’s lives is something else.

By censoring sites like youtube you’re inevitably invading what is nowadays perceived as private property. I know youtube is open to anyone, but a personal youtube page is more or less regarded as a private space by its owners and users.

Commenting? Fine. Disapproving? Great. But interfearing without permission is simply not done.

And yes, Youtube is the actual owner of the site. And yes, Google in fact owns all blogs on Blogger, but by their users it’s not perceived that way. They perceive their blogs and pages as something private. And their perceived private ownership means a lot to them.

It’s a fundamental part of their lives. It’s who they are. It’s what they do. It’s what defines them.

If you want them to respect your brands, if you want them to respect your carefully constructed perceived values, you need to respect theirs as well.

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