When you repeatedly go against your mission and values, you lose credibility, and your position is in danger. The audience will start to drift – first, slowly towards other platforms. Drifting will accelerate once a critical mass through worth of mouth is reached. Then there is no way back.
Brands are like people.
If you for example do not like how a friend behaves, you can simply decide to no longer hang out with your friend. The same goes for brands. If a brand behaves terribly, you can decide to stop engaging, buying, or using that particular brand.
It gets tricky when your friend says that living according to noble values is essential and even points the noble way of living out to others. It comes then as an unpleasant surprise when you learn that your friend is everything but living up those dearly hold and communicated values. We get confused because the friend’s behavior does not match the perception we have about the person. The person is no longer credible. If the friendship continues, it will be an unhealthy one based on disbelief and issues with trust. If a brand stops living the values, the same reaction of disbelief and distrust appears. And over time, we will look for alternatives.
Today I encountered a trust issue with YouTube, the brand that has brought video sharing to the masses. YouTube helped to accelerate the growth of humans by bringing immense knowledge to the fingertips of everyone.
Already for some time, YouTube is actively censoring freedom of speech by removing videos or channels about medical information, science, scientists, specific news channels, or simply videos containing an opinion (how scientific it might be) that is going against a set of guidelines, therefore stopping the debate and opportunity for humans to learn.
The first thing you encounter on the about page is a clear mission statement. Unfortunately, YouTube is actually actively going against their own mission. For YouTube not everyone is the same, some deserve to have a voice, while others unfortunately do not.
When we look at the values we see a similar pattern.
The Freedom of Expression is striking:
We believe people should be able to speak freely, share opinions, foster open dialogue, and that creative freedom leads to new voices, formats and possibilities.
If YouTube in the last year has shown one thing it is that it is not a real advocate of Freedom of Expression.
I have therefore one simple question for YouTube:
You have given me a lot of opportunities to enrich my knowledge on virtually any topic. I thank you for that.
Unfortunately, I am distrusting you and as your friend I see two options going forward:
- You live up to your values,
- You update the values to reflect your behaviour.
Either way is acceptable because strong brands provide clarity regarding what they stand for and consistency in execution using company values as a steering compass. Only this way, they remain credible.
Make your choice.