September 30, 2015

The stories we tell

Amidst the fallout of the VW scandal, what has surprised me the most, is not another a large corporation being caught out gaming the system – but the fact the VW fans are sticking by.

Initially I thought this kind of global scandal would equal an immediate death, in the aftermath however speaking with multiple current owners and fans of VW, I no longer believe that.

Ask a VW fan and they’ll say they only drive petrol cars not the diesel version or cite the quality of their car over previous brands – even with the absolute betrayal of trust in the relationship they tell themselves a story that makes this act become ‘ok’.

This story is not out of the blue, this story has been building over many years. It was started by VW, in the product brochure or TV spot. It was added to by the online car reviews, the sales person or other owners.

It continues with the product and service experience, the regular communication pieces that continue to enforce who is in, the email updates, forums and social channels.

But before long these cue points are all used by the fan to tell the story they wish – what they feel the car says about them, who they are, where they are going and how the relationship they have with the brand aids in this.

A relationship with a brand begins with the story you hear. But grows with the story you tell.

VW will survive not because what they did was ‘ok’ (it wasn’t!) –  but because it’s true fans will tell themselves a story that it was.

Your goal then, find your true fans and delight them.

Because we all make mistakes in relationships, it’s just some we tell ourselves are worth forgiving.