I like singing, dancing and snapping like everyone else when it comes to ‘Single Ladies.’ And I totally agree - if you liked it, then you should have put a ring on it. But it still doesn't mean I like Beyoncé.
Why don't I like Beyoncé? Very simple, I have no clue who she is. I've never met her and know anything about her life. How I can I like her? What's there to like? I just don't like her. Not even a bit.
Make no mistake, I don't dislike Beyoncé either. I am completely ambivalent when it comes to Beyoncé the person. Beyoncé the person is a complete unknown to me and everyone who isn't close family or friends. How can you like or dislike something or someone you simply don't know and have no clue who or what they are?
But the brand Beyoncé – what most of us experience – is something completely different. We are sold an image and a promise, not something real. And when it comes to the brand Beyoncé, I can honestly say that I am not a huge fan. Mostly because she isn't a brand that speaks to me. Money, fame, etc don't mean anything to me so the brand misses me by a mile. Emptying a $10,000 bottle of champagne into a hot tub just doesn't speak to my values or my interests. I work in sustainability and know the value of values. And I know the value of how far $10,000 can go to feed people, house people, provide healthcare for people, etc. It’s not a judgment on what she did. Okay, maybe a little bit. But the point is more that she does what she does and I have zero interest in how she does it. It doesn’t move me in any way. But neither do the Kanye West and Pitbull brands, or any brand that pushes fame and fortune as a key part of their brand value proposition.
SB '15 San DiegoOr any brand that wastes resources that could so easily change a life. Brands who use too much plastic packaging - wasteful and not my brand. Brands who pay low wages - careless and not my brand. Brands who burn too much fossil fuel - environmentally unfriendly and not my brand. Brands who deny equal rights - different values and not my brand.
It doesn't mean I hate these brands. They just don't talk to me. I can't relate because they don't share my interest or my values. They don't view the world the way I do. Or share my vision for the world. Heck, they might still do some good stuff - as a father of two girls, I like Beyoncé being a strong woman in a male-dominated industry. And I like a few of her tunes, too.
The same with those company brands. I might like how a specific company stands up for its LGBT employees but still not like the brand because of its fossil fuel use, or like how a company pays fair wages but not like the brand because of its impact on obesity as a fast food company.
Beyoncé can't be for everyone and consumer brands can't be for everyone, either. Not everyone needs to like you or love you. You can't please everyone - when you try, you end up pleasing no one.
But what you can do is be respected.
What counts is to believe in something, stand for something and be true to that. I might not like Beyoncé the brand but I respect how she is true to her brand. And she uses this power of her brand to create a loyal group of followers who will fight for her causes and defend her brand.
I learnt that very valuable lesson when I told my team I don't like Beyoncé. Never, ever have I had a reaction like that. More passionate than all climate change activists put together. More militant than PETA on a bad day.
That is what brands can do - stay true to what you are and build a loyal group of believers. You don't need to be perfect, but you do need to be honest, open and out there. Patagonia, Ben & Jerry’s, Method, Tesla, TOMS, etc are not perfect, but their followers are deeply committed to the same causes. They remain true to their brand and turn supporters into believers and believers into activists.
Remaining true to who you are also helps people see the real you and not just the brand you. You are your brand. Like the real Beyoncé is actually no different from the brand – at least not in how we experience her.
So yes, I don't like the Beyoncé brand. But I respect her. And I respect her followers and their deep passion. What's your Beyoncé? Are you a Beautiful Liar or will you allow your followers to fall ‘Crazy In Love’ with your brand and values?