December 17, 2012

What Does It Really Mean To Have A “Likeable” Brand?

What does it mean to have a “Likeable” brand?

This idea of likeable has become something of a fascination for me, because the phrase itself is so subjective.

As marketers, the biggest obstacle we have to overcome is this burning need to be likeable to everyone. Shocking to say on I know, but hear me out.

Trying to be likeable to everyone keeps you second guessing yourself at all times, and your customers can sense it.

Your jokes are corny, your questions are trite, and every status update, tweet, video and blog post reeks of fear that you’re doing it wrong.

Ladies, it’s like that guy you dated once who tried doing everything right. He held the door open, pulled out your chair, laughed at all your jokes and longingly gazed into your eyes when you spoke.

This might have been alright, except when you asked him questions he said, “Just tell me about you, I want to hear about you.” and every gentlemanly gesture was prefaced with “no wait, let me get that!” just a second too late.

This need to do everything right is the same reason a brand might respond to someone who’s obviously furious with “Your feedback is important to us…blah blah blah”

It’s crippling and unrealistic to be likeable to everyone.

What’s likeable to me might not be likeable to you.

And if you think that your brand is suffering from this currently, you might want to embrace being UnLikeable.

Want proof that it works? Look no further than the Heavy Metal and Rock and Roll.

This isn’t to say you should go around ticking everyone off, but sometimes the best way to become Likeable to one demographic is to be UnLikeable to another. (Both Oreo and Chick-fil-a come to mind)

When I took this question to LinkedIn, there were a handful of good answers, but most were filled with generic marketer speak. Here’s my favorite (Warning: I’m going to pick on them)

Again, the question: What does it mean to have a “Likeable” brand?

It means that you are a brand that is well-liked by your users. Ways that this trust is built up can be though a number of ways including, but not reserved to, engaging your audience with relevant updates and news, listening to them and taking their input or recommendations/concerns, connecting with them through all of the above, providing a service and giving excellent customer to consumer relations.

Do you see the generic marketer speak I was talking about?

I asked what it means to have a Likeable brand? “You are a brand that is well liked by your users.”


As the comment continues, more catch phrases like “engaging your audience with relevant updates and news” Make me wonder – how do I be engaging? How do I know what’s relevant?

“Taking their input or recommendations/concerns”

If I’m a new brand, how am I supposed to take input when no one is giving it?

“Connecting with them through all of the above, providing a service and giving excellent customer to consumer relations.”

Again, how do I connect?

About the only thing I agree with is giving excellent customer service.

Ok, so enough ranting.

Here’s what I think makes a Likeable brand, and I want to hear your thoughts on this too because we can all learn something from each other.

A Likeable brand is one that does it’s research. It knows you. What television shows you watch, what books you read, and all the different ways you enjoy yourself.

A Likeable brand doesn’t market. It uses what it knows about you to informs, entertain, inspire, console, and stand up for what you both believe is right.

A Likeable brand strives to surprise and delight its customers. Apple gives $10,000 to it’s 25 billionth customer. Any part of Marilyn Manson, Alice Cooper, or Ozzy Osbourne’s early careers were also surprising and delightful (even if it’s not your cup of tea)

I think a Likeable brand strives to understand its customers so well, it transcends being a vendor of goods and becomes a part of the customers identity (Apple) and gives them a voice (Facebook, Youtube)

A Likeable brand is welcome regardless of the medium, time of day, or platform, and it’s communications are always a bit of an escape.

To me, a Likeable brand is one you never catch marketing or selling, and it takes risks even if it means being UnLikeable from time to time.

Now how about you?

Tommy Walker is an online marketing strategist and host of “Inside The Mind” web series that aims to forever change the way you view marketing. Get all 22 episodes from Season 1 + exclusive bonus interviews by clicking on this link here.

Tags: Content Marketing, Facebook, LinkedIn, Strategy

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