The customer is king, says the people-pleasing entrepreneur who constantly worries that negative feedback could shutter his business. I have personally worked for bosses who panic at the slightest indication of public dissatisfaction. Under said bosses, fickle policy making is the norm. They are more likely to be swayed by a toxic rant than to stand by a collective decision every team member supports.
And in this social media world we live in now — where an otherwise isolated sentiment can seem deafeningly loud when amplified by a handful of overzealous online warriors — corporate executives with weak resolve tend to buckle under the weight of digital lobbying. It is therefore my hope that the poor brand managers of Formula 1 — recently acquired by a new American owner — will not succumb to social media pressure after receiving a passionate backlash against the new logo they unveiled over the weekend.
When I first saw the new logo, my initial thought was: “This is actually nice. Sleek, clean, modern. I like it.”
And then I pored over the long thread of angry (and hilarious) comments from followers of the official F1 Instagram account.
“It’s like changing Helvetica to Comic Sans,” observed one.
“It looks like it was designed by a child,” remarked another.
“I’m starting to miss the old one already,” added a fellow critic.
After reading hundreds of similar brickbats, even I began to doubt my personal assessment. Was I wrong in thinking the new logo looked okay? Was I even qualified to evaluate graphic art to begin with? The sheer amount of disapproval gave me the illusion I was misguided in liking the new logo, and that the only acceptable emotion was one of repugnance.
I would later show the new Formula 1 logo to a colleague, who also happens to be an art director. As a visual artist whose aesthetic taste I respect, I had to know what he thought of the much-maligned trademark. As I had hoped he would, he gave the new logo his thumbs-up. Much better than the old one, he said. In fact, he pointed out, place the new logo next to the previous one and the latter would look so out of date.
I agree. Indeed, the old F1 logo almost seems like a counterfeit joke compared to its replacement. But see, I had to hear the validating appraisal of a professional artist to feel comfortable with my own judgment. All those critical statements made me feel insecure about my own ability to give an honest opinion regarding a simple logo. I imagine this is what someone who is being gaslighted goes through.
These are dangerous times to be harvesting information online, psychologically speaking. Besides having incompetent and flat-out ignorant charlatans offering aggressive views on just about any subject, there are countless trolls out there whose mission in life is to mess with other people’s thinking. The scary part is that it’s the quacks who are usually the noisiest, making them sound correct and authoritative.
Whether you’re a businessman or just a private individual trying to make sense of your antagonistic news feed, there are two things you need to arm yourself with: critical thinking and discernment. The first means being able to form ideas and conclusions by yourself, without the influence of social media — and being 100% confident about them no matter what. The second is being able to tell the bogus from the genuine, the hoax from the fact, the fake news from the real news. I have journalist-friends who, believe it or not, share stupid content from disreputable Web sites. If supposed journalists routinely fall for deceptions, what hope do their readers have?
Consumers are relying more and more on customer feedback these days, which is generally available online. I, for one, won’t buy an electronic product before I check reviews from buyers on Amazon. But even on popular sites like this, there are questionable reviews made by dubious users. Who knows if a particularly scathing analysis isn’t the work of the brand’s competition?
Social media, for the most part, is great. But we have to be extremely careful and extraordinarily tough when wading through a sea of comments, especially if these comments are aimed at our own brand or product. There will always be those who disagree, those who complain, those who find fault. Haters will always hate, as they say.
The good and wise businessman takes note of the grievances, but doesn’t lose sight of the big objective. To get there, sometimes you just have to mute Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, and execute your plan in peace and quiet. Get out of that misleading echo chamber and you will find a clearer path to success.