Disenchantment: How brands and businesses commit suicide

Loyalty is a “conditional” allegiance to something or someone— Anonymous

Don’t get it twisted. Salutation is not love.
According to a certain arbiter, disenchantment is a feeling of disappointment about someone or something you previously respected or admired; disillusionment. The opposite of this is enchantment which according to Guy Kawasaki (former Apple Chief Evangelist) is the Art of Changing Hearts, Minds, and Actions. But, how does this relate to anything? The inspiration for this piece came on the heels of a major encounter I had with an earlier entity I had raved about but a recent shabby treatment left me utterly disenchanted. I have taken the liberty of not recounting this experience here but the whole experience left me wondering how easy it is for love to turn sour. I hope that the reader of this piece will pick one or two lessons on how to manage and resolve conflicts that arise in day-to-day stakeholder engagement. Human desires are simply insatiable. Smart businesses deal with this reality daily but strive to deliver the best nevertheless.

The gospel according to raving fans.
A lot of businesses desire to enjoy loyalty from customers and partners in their ecosystem. According to Ken Blanchard (Author, One Minute Manager), he identified having an army of raving fan-customers as one of the features of sticky brands. No wonder, when you check the vocabulary of these brands, loyalty is highly placed. Loyalty to most would seem to convey a condition where a customer or stakeholder can’t find no wrong. In more practical terms, this couldn’t be more wrong. That day will never come when customers will be so satisfied as not to have things they wish was better. Even when it appears they have been so delighted, a superlative offer is enough to help create a new desire. This is why smart companies don’t rest on the oars. Such establishments are always looking forward to taking feedback from customers and others who are connected to it with a view of addressing any gap in its offerings. Offenses will arise (this is for sure) but it is how you go about dealing with it that matters. Even the most iconic brands have low moments ranging from displeased customers to disenchanted employees e.t.c. What they know and seem to have mastered is the wisdom to choose the response.

Mannerisms count.
I wish I could assure my reader that there is a silver bullet for staying away from conflicts and complications. Sadly, there is no such thing as an invisible brand. What we have are Brand Intelligent Enterprises (BIE) who like wise individuals tap into the basic principles of engagement to delight customers (including exceptionally difficult ones). Truth be told, there are certain entities who seem to love to be a pain in the neck for others (I am not talking of these cynics). Imagine a scenario where you step (unknowingly) on a well-polished shoes of stranger on the queue of a banking hall. The likely reaction of such a person who is most likely conscious of his well shone shoes is to react. Clearly, nobody loves to be stepped on. This happens a lot but what will most likely determine the final outcome of such an encounter is the action the person who steps on another takes. This analogy happens in business everyday. A mis-step, an error, a genuine mistake. You name it happens in the course of serving the customer. What will determine the eventual outcome rides on the cycle of actions and reactions.  Every action leads to a reaction. so we have come to know. As popular as this nugget is, a lot of businesses and individuals seem to forget this all important principle. This explains why highly celebrated products, services and even corporations fail at delighting those who matter. It is still okay to say THANK YOU. It doesn’t reduce anything in us to say SORRY. Appealing to the goodwill of others by saying PLEASE is not a big thing to say before placing our demands.

Principles of Brand Intelligent Enterprises (BIE)
Respect. Treating individuals shabbily without regard is one of the quickest way to destroy whatever equity your brand has. Experts on motivation recognize and assert that human beings love to be treated with dignity and so would naturally gravitate towards products, companies and individuals that treat them well. The need for respect is one of the most profound needs of the human soul. Take a look at your personal life, who is that favorite barber you prefer to give you a cut? Why would you insist on him? The car wash where I take my car to, there is the particular guy who I prefer to clean my car. Why do I insist on him? There are many possible reasons why I have taken a liking to him but there is nothing that impresses me like the respect he accords to me and my car (I don’t drive a Mercedes, he doesn’t speak my native language and he doesn’t prostrate to me). When I talk of respect, I’m talking about seeing others and treating them as human beings who deserve nothing but the best.

Excellence. Excellence is a relative term but one thing is that a Lizard in Lagos, Nigeria cannot suddenly go to New York to be called a Crocodile. There is a universality that comes with calling something excellent. Excellence is about possessing certain high values or qualities in considerably sufficient quantity beyond the prevailing average.

Altruism. According to Wikipedia, Altruism or selflessness is the principle or practice of concern for the welfare of others. It is a traditional virtue in many cultures and a core aspect of various religious traditions and secular worldviews, though the concept of “others” toward whom concern should be directed can vary among cultures and religions. Altruism or selflessness is the opposite of selfishness. In a world of unbridled competition and disruption, companies who cannot balance their bottom line expectations (profits) with the needs of others within and outside its primary ecosystem are finding it increasingly difficult to operate. In this era, Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) is no longer a by-product objective but a lifeline for entities who want to pursue sustainable advantage.

Love. At a fundamental level, brands are imaginary lovemarks. The people we love to hang around and the brands we love aren’t different at all. They make us special. They serve us. They add value to us and like our buddies and BFFs, they are just cool. They are not perfect but they don’t stop aiming to be better. Yes! We have moments of misunderstanding and fall outs but these characters inspire us nevertheless. Love is an action word and its about making a choice to be the rainbow in another person’s cloud. (Maya Angelou)

Here you have it. Brand Intelligent Enterprises (BIE) are REAL. They are  products, brands, individuals and entities that connect with us beyond functional and sensorial levels of human connection. They go deep into our souls. They inspire us to embrace goodness. Others who defile these principles find themselves on the wrong side of the fence: disillusioned and disenchanted.

Image Credit: Guy Kawasaki

Femi Oni

Femi’s overarching purpose is to inspire brands (individuals, organisations and nations) to unlock potentials to achieve sustainable growth and impact. His mission is to mentor 1000 brands in Africa and beyond by 2025.

Specialties and Interests: Business Model Design & Innovation, Visioning, Strategy Design & Execution, Project Management, Change Management, Strategic Branding, Operations Excellence, Process Modelling, Product Management, Productivity Management, Entrepreneurial Leadership (Startups), , Social Evangelism, Education, Sustainability, Cybernetics, Risk & Compliance.