“You can fool some of the people all of the time. You can fool all of the people some of the time. But you can’t fool all of the people all of the time.” – Abraham Lincoln


Whether your brand is personal or a can of beans, your brand promise is not what you say it is, it’s what you have demonstrated over time to your customers. It’s what they say it is! It’s their experience that counts more that any marketing campaign.

Spinning Out

A slick marketeer can bet that your customers have a short memory and that you can re-write history, deny your past mistakes, and take credit for things you have not done. But you can’t fool all of your customers all of the time. As soon as they get disappointed again, they will quickly remember all the other disappointments of the past. In fact, a lack of transparency and integrity significantly diminishes your credibility. Once you lose that, what you say from then on holds less weight.

Dampening Enthusiasm

You may have a core of brand supporters who want to believe that choice they made in the brand they chose was validated by your spin or denial of past disappointments. Their support is more about justifying their brand choice and less about your product. The problem is that brands are either expanding or collapsing, and they expand because their advocates solicit more prospects. It becomes harder to solicit new prospects if your brand has let those prospects down.

Now your advocates are running into a wall. They feel they have to promote your brand to justify their choice, but don’t want to suffer the push back from their friends, i.e., your prospects. Now they are less likely to help you expand your brand.

Damage is Damaging

We have seen many brands suffer fatal blows when they violated their brand promise. No manner of cover up, blame, or spin could repair the damage to their reputation. Why? Because the customers who have been negatively effected were actually hurt by your product. They are disappointed that their brand let them down. As time goes on, the bad product is still out there causing more damage.

Recall Bad Product

The only thing that can help is a total recall. Get the bad product off the market quickly and replace it with a better product. Come clean about the problems and try to regain credibility. With brands, credibility take years to establish and can be lost overnight. You must walk your talk and live up to your customers’ expectations. You can’t just talk your way out of it! And you can’t deny the problem with your products never happened.

Your competition will not only use the problem with your product to promote their own, but they will quote your denials to further destroy your credibility.

The solution is to provide your customer with competent and consistent support that they can depend on so that they will give you the benefit of the doubt instead of doubting the benefit! You simply can’t fool all the people all the time!