Love, brands and forgiveness

June 13, 2010 § Leave a comment

love and forgive

Doubtless there are tons of marketers spending heaps of time, money and resources toward trying to make their brands lovable. Sadly, many of these efforts fall far short of that lofty goal and at best achieve a temporary state of likability.

Cool features, great packaging, witty ads, attractive pricing are all dutifully studied, discussed, reviewed and presented and are all too often cast aside when a new ad, a better price, a shinier package, one extra feature or yikes! – one misstep comes along. Loyalty, or rather its lapse, tells us if we are liked, but not loved.

Perhaps the thing to put the attention on and the energy behind is not to strive so systematically to be lovable, but instead to figure out if your brand might be forgivable.

What does it mean to be forgivable? When we forgive we are letting go of resentment that we feel when someone has offended or hurt us. We look past the infraction, the shortcoming, the fumble and refocus on something else, something that forms the basis of the relationship, something that we deem worthy of forgiveness, something that merits a second chance. Is it love? Maybe not always, but it is certainly a step in that direction. When a company can give us something to believe in and then consistently acts in accordance with that belief – demonstrates the belief not just in words, but in choices and actions, then it is developing for those aligned with that belief something that for want of a better word I would call forgivability.

If I can forgive a brand for a mistake, even an offense, then it is likely that I am drawn to some ideal, a value, belief or empathy with that brand. Certainly some offenses are too severe to be forgiven, but I think that more often forgiveness is simply a moot point, because despite the efforts towards being lovable there is no relationship established, no buy-in to anything meaningful beyond the veneer of product, package and price.

If your company should stumble, release a clinker of a product, have a little scandal, make a PR gaff, who would forgive your brand? Who amongst your customers would give you a second chance? Learn who they are and why they would deem you worthy of a second shot and you may find yourself staring at a mirror’s reflection of your core brand values – or perhaps a compass for finding a true and sustainable path to your customer’s hearts.

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