People fall into two distinct categories: those who want to be liked and those who want to be respected.
If your goal is to be respected, 9 times out of 10, you will eventually be liked – and even admired. That’s how powerful respect is. However, if your goal is to be liked, respect and admiration are much harder to achieve. Striving for likability often involves giving up those characteristics that make you interesting and unique. In an effort never to offend anyone or create discord, you risk becoming whatever you think people want you to be.
Brands are no different. And today, with social media, likability has become the barometer for success in the marketplace. Why risk being authentic and reflecting your true nature when you can rack up hundreds – even thousands of likes? Well, if you chip away at your core values enough times, you are left with crumbs.
Target recently aired a social video of a young, female, black entrepreneur who created Honey Pot – a line of personal hygiene products at Target nationwide. Founder Beatrice Dixon spoke her truth in the video, claiming “The reason why it’s so important for Honey Pot to do well is so the next black girl that comes up with a great idea, she could have a better opportunity.” The negative reaction was swift in social media and product reviews. It exposed a frightening level of racism and cruelty. The silver lining was that positive reviews and support followed and actually helped the success of the brand. Respect.
The venerable House of Chanel recently chose 25-year-old Teddy Quinlivan, an openly transgender model, as the face of Chanel cosmetics. To paraphrase her reaction: “This was a victory that made all of that s@#% worth it.” Discovered by the creative director of Louis Vuitton, her rise has been meteoric. Was it a risky move? Absolutely. Respect.
So whether you are a brand or just a person, speak your truth. Yes, it might stir up controversy, but the world is watching and listening for honesty, integrity and grit. People will know exactly who you are and what you stand for. And as a consumer and a human being, that my friends is worth my respect.