Don't Let Your Brand Attract the Wrong Kind Of Attention



Once upon a time, there used to be a saying in the 20th century that went like this: Any press is good press. Any publicity is good publicity. The genie is out of the proverbial bottle. The toothpaste is out of the tube. Here in the 21st century, things are NEVER going back to the way they were.

As far back as 1972, the economist Herbert A. Simon coined the phrase “The Attention Economy”. Professor Simon argued that Attention was the “bottleneck of human thought,” limiting where we can selectively and recklessly shift our focus. In the digital age, the dizzying wealth of information we’re now subjected to has created a poverty of attention. In or daily scrolling, we all drive like maniacal data drunkards at the speed of light.

For any business and brand, getting noticed and earning Attention is every bit as vital as water and air to a human. Fundamentally, Attention = Currency. The more favorable public Attention you get, the more clients, customers and candidates appear knocking at your door. However, in a cancel culture world, the WRONG kind of attention - where anyone can weigh in with a keystroke - will destroy a reputation in less than 24 hours. It’s not an exaggeration to say that a reputation that may have taken 20, 30 or 40 years to build can be annihilated overnight.

There is, however, a solution to prevent this kind of brand-killing cataclysm.

A solution that can be distilled into a single 8-letter word: Identity

When you unequivocally know who you are – beyond your products and services – you will always have the comfort of being on the right track with your marketing and branding efforts. You won't be drawn in, fooled, tempted, or made to feel guilty into giving up your values and principles. The decisions you make about messaging in the social media space will be made with confidence that your Reputation will always be protected by a bullet-proof Identity that can stand the test of time.

Craft a Powerful Brand Identity

In Chapter 7 of my book, Big Little Things, take a much deeper dive and discover what’s required to create a brand identity that can be captured in 2-6 words. An Identity fully aligned with your core beliefs. One that provides a consistent foundation for all of your public communication. One of the best examples of what that looks like right now is happening daily at Calgary based Charlesglen Toyota, “Alberta’s Celebration Destination”. Each day, this local car dealership is posting stories, pictures, and videos of different moments and occasions to celebrate. It could be National Bring Your Pet to Work Day, Jerry Seinfeld’s birthday, the 50th anniversary of the moon landing, National One Hit Wonder Day, or International Talk Like a Pirate Day.

With a firm knowledge of knowing WHO they are in terms of their Identity, Charlesglen Toyota conveys with unwavering consistency the types of stories that reflect two key considerations:

  1. Their own values and shared beliefs.
  2. Content that aligns with the wants, needs, and desires of their audience.

Under no circumstances are they offering opinions or content related to political, social, and cultural issues completely unrelated to their brand Identity. Consequently, they avoid the many pitfalls and unpredictable landmines that can be stepped on via a single Tweet.

Safeguard Your Reputation with Unshakable Identity

Unfortunately, many well-known American brands have discovered the opposite is also true. The very public destruction we have all witnessed for various reasons these last several weeks are now regarded as the ultimate in cautionary tales. Warren Buffet once stated, “It takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it. If you think about that, you'll do things differently."

Certain public reputation issues might not be fixable. Unmitigated PR disasters are absolutely preventable if top level leadership had absolute clarity on their brand Identity in the first place.

Your brand Identity is far too valuable to be outsourced, promoted or pitched by a social media “influencer”. It cannot be found, fabricated or selected off any trendy or traditional, one-size fits-all marketing rack.

It can only fully emerge when leaders armed with ample curiosity have the courage to discover, tell and live a brand story uniquely and entirely their own.

When you embrace your Identity, you unleash your destiny.