I was reading an old piece by a very popular blogger today, introducing his new logo and asking for feedback. Some of the comments – both on the site itself and in social media – really amazed me. (Personally amazed me, not amazed me in context. I'm not amazed that people did or didn't like it. When the size of your audience reaches a certain point, you're never going to please everybody.)
But personally, as a member of the marketing community, I was absolutely fascinated by people’s willingness to run their mouth off. People who think that them not personally liking a logo is not one amateur's perfectly allowable opinion but an indicator that it is objectively bad.
A friend of mine told me – privately and very respectfully – that she thought the logo wasn’t as good as the old one because the old one showed what he did for a living and the new one doesn’t. This is a fair point. She is entitled to a layman’s opinion, and he DID ask for opinions. Just don’t unleash all over the dude’s comment box like you’re a logo expert. (Thankfully, she didn’t do that. Well done, her.)
It just got me thinking… how many times do we hear the opinions of situationally stupid people and treat them with the same weight as we treat the opinions of professionals?
How many times has your mother told you she didn’t think you should post that on your blog? Someone you’ve never even heard of replies to your latest newsletter, telling you that you're emailing too often? Your neighbour tells you that your business decision was a bad one?
You know what it’s like. You tell your [mother/spouse/sister] that you’re thinking of going to a business conference and they tell you you’re out of your mind to spend money meeting your little online friends in real life.
You tell your [brother/uncle/co-worker] you’re getting a new website and they think you’re insane to spend that much money when you’re not making any yet.
You tell your [child’s teacher/AA sponsor/waste management specialist] that you’re going to sell a blanket with arms attached via late night infomercials and they look at you like you’re whackadoo.
What the hell do they know?
It takes a level of courage that borders on dementia to knowingly do something other people think is crazy. It is painful and terrifying and lonely as hell. But try to remember that your loudest detractors are the ones with the most invested in the status quo. The biggest complainers have an agenda and it’s probably not in line with yours.
Listen to your brother the plumber when your sink is backed up. When you want to succeed at business, listen to the people who have succeeded at business.
Off-topic PS: Interesting thought: Maybe some people do controversial stuff or ask your opinion to deliberately bait their detractors. Doing stuff people won't like is an awfully effective way to find out who your enemies are.