As people, our moral compass of right from wrong is formed from the time we are kids and continues to evolve as we learn and grow.
Often, the magnetic force at its core is the values instilled in us during childhood that influence our behaviors and how we view the world around us. These principles taught to us as kids inspire us to see the best of the worst situations and shape how we handle the good and the bad that life throws us.
Arguably one of the first lessons taught to us is the importance of how we treat others—extending kindness even when it's not easy while still respecting our self-worth and not allowing others to put us down. We treat others the way we expect to be treated in all circumstances.
While there are countless ways to teach this lesson, Maya Angelou summarized the why behind it best when she said, “people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”
No matter how small it feels to you, the actions you take in one moment can create an immeasurable impact on others. How you treat others will always follow you. Your reputation will precede you—and your brand.
The user journey, culture, and community of an organization impact its legacy in the eyes of its customers and employees alike.
Both parties want to feel heard, respected, and valued. For better or for worse, they remember how brands treat them. Whether uplifted or restricted, listened to or shut down, appreciated or replaceable is conveyed; it all impacts a brand's reputation.
Just look at the Dear Intern trend and the moment that sparked it on Twitter. Last Thursday, many HBO Max subscribers received an unexpected, unexplained Integration Test Email #1. The company quickly jumped online to apologize for the inconvenience and explained that an intern accidentally sent out the email. While that explanation would have been satisfactory on its own, the organization took it one step further by responding to the incident with compassion and stating that they are helping the intern through it.
This display of transparency and kindness sparked a response from the public no one could have predicted. Rather than shaming or making jokes at the intern’s expense, an overwhelming amount of support for the intern and HBO Max started pouring in online with countless people sharing their own workplace mistakes that they have managed to overcome.
By choosing to address their interns' error with kindness and compassion, instead of hiding the source of the mistake and placing blame, HBO Max humanized their brand. They connected with the public, supported their internal team, and sparked a heartwarming social media conversation that shows we’re all human.
How companies respond to internal accidents can leave a lasting impact on how their employees remember them. As much as we wish we were the only author writing our reputation story, many voices and factors mold how our organization is seen and what it is known for—internally and externally.
For your brand's legacy to become beloved, it has to love and cherish all the people it engages. Remember, they'll never forget how you make them feel. Make it a good memory!