Loved or Feared as a Business?

As a business, it is important to know how you appeal to those you serve. For some companies, a friendly, fun-loving persona is key to ingratiating them in the homes of millions. You may think of companies that appeal to children in their friendly, family-fun aesthetic, color language, and branding.

Or, your company may wish to adopt a high-stakes, strict and professional presence, such as the no-nonsense branding approach employed by law firms, business sales leads companies, and funeral directors.

In some cases, even international brands have been known to employ both. Think of Disney, a brand famed for its place in all our childhoods, but also known as an enterprise with an aggressive acquisition plan, the willingness to ruthlessly defend and expand its trademark, and strict employment conditions intended to preserve the image of its public theme parks.

The question remains – is it better to be loved or feared as a business, and what are the benefits and drawbacks of either side? In this post, we will discuss that and more:

The utility of generating love for your brand:

A loved brand breeds goodwill naturally. Through a pro-consumer attitude and willingness to listen to feedback, your brand naturally aligns itself with its audience. You may also serve as an authority on the craft you promote, be that the best way to blend Whisky or the art of toy manufacturing. You take responsibility for your ethical obligations. You care.

Generating love is not just reaching out to process when companies generate leads and leverage on repetition. Goodwill is the fabric of a good business, and it is hard-won. Achieve it, and you can ensure regular returning customers, with word-of-mouth recommendations performing the arduous task of marketing for you. It will mean you have an audience no matter what you do.

That said – a loved brand also needs to keep its standards high. A public slip-up, a lack of transparency, or tough decisions such as downsizing your staff can be taken with much more furor than you may have expected – as many companies suffering the Covid-19 pandemic found out the hard way.

The utility of cultivating a proud, intimidating presence as a brand:

The term ‘fear’ is more a shorthand for having your audience feel a sense of intimidation over your scope, your high professional standards, and serving a niche target audience. For instance, many average-income earners feel intimidated eating in fine dining establishments, due to the prices, usual clientele, and professional standards.

Apple is an international brand that speaks to refined technical standards in their products and services, and as such are known as being less accessible than their competition’s open product economies.

A standards-are-everything approach to your business, as well as your willingness to acquire other brands, innovate in bold directions, and provide the competent figurehead to serve as a proponent to everything you do, shows bold direction and can attract interest and buzz no matter what decisions you make.

That said – by nature of your exclusivity or bold decision making, this is going to limit general goodwill, even among your regular customers. It may limit exclusive leads. It can also prevent people from using your service or product library, thinking of themselves outside the target market.

Like leadership, having your business loved or feared can provide a range of benefits and drawbacks depending on your style. It is up to you to determine your preference, what suits your business, and what public brand persona you wish to promote.