Analog Lessons in Usability: Kramer

[cross-posted at 30B]

Well, this might be more of a business lesson, but here goes. Entertainment news this week included the unfortunate news of Michael Richards’ (aka Kramer) deplorably racist tirade at a comedy club.

After the shock from watching it settled in, my initial reaction was that I don’t think that I would be able to watch any more episodes of Seinfeld. The next day I heard sports radio show host Jim Rome carve up (gratuitous Thanksgiving reference) Richards and Rome’s conclusion: he isn’t planning on watching Seinfeld either and can’t fathom how anyone else could either.

Extrapolate and your realize that one slip up can have a very substantial impact on a very trusted brand and franchise. Years after the show’s end, Richards’ bit is going to cost millions of dollars.

Brands are difficult to build and easily tainted. One of the refreshing things about the Web2.0 movement is a committment to the customer. It is a reaction to the rampant user abuses of the late nineties from companies desperate to “monetize.” Combine that with a wholesale neglect of the end consumer by large monoliths (think airlines, customer support from portals, and never-ending phone menus) and we are seeing the ability for small companies to build trusted brands in short order.

Is there a lesson here? Yes, respect your customer and think twice before you engage them or make use of their data in any way that you wouldn’t approve if it were your data. One slip up and your company could be the next Gator, errrrr…Claria.

[tags]usability, seinfeld, kramer, michaelrichards, gator, claria, web2.0, brands, branding[/tags]

One comment

  1. Andrew

    Are you forgetting where you live??? This is America and you’re going to have to get caught with some elementary school kids in your bed or murder your ex-wife before you see any drops in profits.

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