In the perpetual drive to shift forward and brand beyond, there are always forces that move conversely to drag us down in the opposite direction. As we press our advantage, and do our best to progress, something stands in our way, echoing the natural law of physics: “For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction”. Alas, the force of branding can meet with an antagonistic force of equal might!
Unfortunately (or fortunately, depending on how you look at it) the rules of physics are also true in the realm of brands and branding. When this occurs, remember: Positive Branding must be used to defend against and eliminate Negative Perception concerning any negative things to come. Whether the perception in question is in fact right or wrong… It still casts a negative impact on people. In reality, society feeds off the effects of perception on a subliminal level, and the spill over or repercussions of this invisible force of nature hits even the best of branding efforts like a violent wave.
“It all boils down to PERCEPTION.”
Brand Organism Viewed through the Living Eye
In human relations, its often the black sheep that stands out of the rest; for it is habitually the bad that gets highlighted. When there is a speck of dirt or dust on an otherwise spotless white board, people often forget the rest of the unblemished white board and focus on the single speck of dirt as the outstanding mark which seems to render everything else insignificant. Negatives often have an uncanny means of finding their way to the limelight. It is often the flaws that capture our focus and attention.
Not only is the above true, but the shadow that negatives cast have a lingering effect – they somehow seem to endure even the most arduous tests of time. For some unexplainable reason, people tend to hold on to the bad things far longer. Human beings, being the creatures of habit that we are, find it harder to let go of the negatives that orbit their life. Metaphorically, negatives stick like ‘glue’ in the psyche and it takes a plenty of conscious effort to remove its deep-rooted effects.
“A brand should have all the strengths of people; but not their weaknesses.”
Negative Brand Contagion
This human attribute is quite transferrable to brands. For brands, though not always or entirely sentient on the surface, do in one way or another possess humanlike qualities. A brand is ‘organic’ in the sense that it is born, grows, evolves and, at times, dies. A brand is also organic because it has touch points which are highly sensitive to human contact. A brand is often comprised of people. So if we delve closer into the makings of a brand, we will notice that facets of its ‘organic’ nature leaves it susceptible to the forces that orbit the human condition, be it good or bad.
If negativity, true or false, warranted or baseless, founded or unfounded, latches itself to a brand, it is very hard to shake it off from the eyes, hearts and minds of consumers. It is particularly disheartening when the case is not genuine and the brand gets negative treatment for an uncalled for reason. One cannot blame consumers for exercising caution for there is wisdom in that.
“People engage the touch points of brands – handle them with utmost care.”
Surviving a Dark Patch
When a brand comes under heavy scrutiny, the worst part is not only is the accusation or negative outcome detrimental, but it takes a lot of effort to surmount the stigma surrounding the whole episode. Convincing the masses to still stay loyal to the brand once a stigma is in place is backbreaking work. Naturally, undoing the damage done (if it were possible), whilst rebuilding customer confidence in the process, can be an uphill battle for a scarred or wounded brand. Though grossly unfair, one will have no other choice but to fight to exist.
At times, the genuine effort put in to rebuild and redefine can boost the injured brand beyond its original status – transcending status quo unto greater horizons. Once the brand pushes hard enough for long enough, it will rise up from the dead, bursting out of the ashes, like a fiery phoenix, to new life.
“Make no mistake – it is a matter of survival – brand survival… Even in the brink of death, do not give up!”
The Importance of Eluding Unconstructive Branding
The Negative 4D’s
In accordance with our assessment, negatives can cause far-reaching harm to one’s brand and branding initiatives – sometimes even going past the point beyond repair. In certain instances, things that had been built over many years can be tarnished or wiped out just over days…hours…even minutes.
More so in today’s technologically infused world, via the Net, anything can go viral in almost no time at all; and a brand can go from ‘Hero’ to ‘Zero’ in the mere blink of an eye. Because of the fact the globe has ‘grown smaller’, we must exercise caution and put in extra effort to neutralize and eliminate negatives as swiftly and effectively as possible. Efforts to contain any stigma are of the utmost importance. In order to do so effectively and consistently, there is only one way… We have to implement Positivity – the very essence of Positive Branding!
“Brands are a legacy, a prized inheritance of generations to come. Do not allow the crippling venom of stigma to turn your mighty oak of a brand into a stunted bonsai!”
The Dynamics of Undoing Negative Branding
The Positive 4D’s
Sometimes, Negative Branding can get the better of us and our brands. Good (or even great) ideas which were positives before they were launched get brutally and heartlessly killed by the piercing arrows of negativity. This intravenous ‘poisoning’ at the very inception level is the unsaid growth formula for death – death of ideas, death of development and ultimately, if nothing is done, death of the brand itself. All that will remain in the end is the ‘black hole’, a once brilliant star that used to be a thriving brand.
The human mind, no matter how complex or simple we believe it to be, works in a mysterious way where impressions can have long-lasting effect, even against the flow of conscious effort. Bad impressions, as well as good ones, perhaps at a lesser degree, have the potential of leaving a long-term mark (remember, first impressions count). Generally, etching a new impression to erase an old one is no walk in the park, particularly when the very ground upon which this remedial effort is to take place on is a slippery slope that may lead to brand suicide…
“How easy it is for humans to be influenced by the bad – if only we could be equally impacted by the good…”
Navigating the Ocean of Turbulent Negativity
The effects of Positive Branding are life giving to a brand. Positivity begets Positivity. Regardless of the stigma orbiting your brand, keep your chin up and stay optimistic. Always remember that the underlying theme is to build up clients’ confidence and regain their trust. Once that is firmly established, live up to your brand promises and the branding competence expected of you. You will not get second chances here – strike while the iron is hot and strike it real hard! Only then people will see the genuineness of your efforts for themselves and be truly convinced. When folks are persuaded and begin to view your brand in the correct light, there is a ‘buy in’ – and this in turn creates LOYALTY.
This is the truth about branding that must be forever imprinted upon our memory: We cannot fight fire with fire. In the same way, we cannot use a negative approach to neutralize negativity – we need something positive to weather the storm – and ultimately, survive it. Sow the seeds of Positivity, regardless of the season, and the harvest shall be aplenty.
“Loyalty cannot be bought –it must be earned.”
Positivity creates POSSIBILITIES. Brand Positivity generates UNLIMITED BRANDING POSSIBILITIES!