HOW TO: Create A Powerful Brand? Make Sure Its Got Some Haters


To Make Sure your Brand is successful make sure it has haters

The notion of being liked by and pleasing everyone is ingrained into our psychology from a very early age. It comes as no wonder then that most marketing gurus and management experts suggest that the best way to create a strong brand is to make sure you have no haters. For instance, what would be your first thought if someone asked you for ideas on how to build a customer-focused enterprise? Most often than not it would revolve around providing excellent customer service and creating a great customer experience so that everyone loves your brand. But guess what, most of the brands that instantly come to mind are not loved by all their customers.

Recently in an article titled “Creating Brand Superfans“, Matthew Rhoden (partner at Peppers & Rogers Group, leading their Telecom and Media practice) talked about three ways in which organizations can take satisfaction to the next level and create advocates of their customers.

  • Silence detractors: Develop an environment where customers will not want to talk badly about a brand. Identify and prioritize customer pockets with a high concentration of negativity, and allocate resources to fix the root issues
  • Build a solid and positive customer experience: Create consistent, coordinated interactions across channels to meet customer needs. Develop efficient internal processes, integrate data, and empower employees so customers are satisfied every time they interact with you
  • Offer extraordinary experiences: Go that extra mile when customers least expect it, and in return, you will receive their long-term business

The above is all well and good, except that I strongly disagree with the concept of “Silence detractors”. Have customers not hate us? Is that your strategy in order to make zealous advocates of your brand? Can we really talk today about silencing anybody? Seriously? If I was asked to provide a recommendation on how to transform customers into advocates, I would suggest exactly the opposite. Don’t waste time on fighting your haters because their hate probably means other customers love you. Having haters means you are making something unique or strange.

In one of his famous speeches Colin Powell quoted:

Trying to get everyone to like you is a sign of mediocrity

Not having haters is a foolproof strategy for mediocrity and once you go down that road, you can sure as hell give up on prescription number two and three: Positive customer experience and extraordinary experiences – they are both the opposite of mediocrity. I hate to state an obvious example but look at Apple. Can you truly say everybody loves Apple? That nobody hates them? Of course not. Actually, some of their most salient value propositions are the ones that are most ridiculed. I am not saying that companies should not listen to their customers or should not improve products and services. However, trying to make everybody happy (not to talk about silencing haters) is a sure proof way to not being remarkable. Seth Godin wrote a while back in post called The forces of mediocrity:

There’s a myth that all you need to do is outline your vision and prove  ITS right AND then, quite suddenly, people will line up and support you.

In fact, the opposite is true. Remarkable visions and genuine insight are always met with resistance. And when you start to make progress, your efforts are met with even more resistance. Products, services, career paths… whatever it is, the forces for mediocrity will align to stop you, forgiving no errors and never backing down until its over.

Such resistance should be relished and not fought against. It is a clear sign you are on the right way. You can’t make everybody happy. Does your company or brand have haters? If not, why not? What should you do to make some?

Note: This article has been reproduced with explicit permission from the author who is a lawyer, MBA and PhD student specializing in Management and Organizations. Check the original post here.

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  1. This is a great article, and really got me thinking about how conversations about brands influence sentiment. We hear so much about positive sentiment and negative sentiment these days, but we often don’t think about how to ‘engage’ the haters.

    Providing an open, honest approach to messaging and providing your positive followers, or fans, with the information and resources (and a good product or service) that they need to support you.

    I think a good approach to have with the haters is to make sure you always take ‘the high road’ and avoid getting into petty spats or fights. People love a good scrap, but they always side with the party that acts responsibly and intelligently.

    • Great Comment Paul. One of the points that the article is trying to also make is that perhaps ‘Haters’ should be allowed to hate the brand.

      A great recent example is Alamo Drafthouse, check out this video


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