Love Or Hate? You Need Both

What have Tesco, The Sun newspaper, British Airways and Manchester United got in common? The answer reveals something fascinating, and counter-intuitive about what it takes to make a great deal of money. Understand and harness this for yourself and it could transform the fortunes of any business or enterprise you’re involved in.

So what’s the link?

Well in a recent poll carried out by Joshua G2 on behalf of Marketing magazine, each of these companies was voted the most hated brand in their market sector. Tesco was the most hated supermarket brand; The Sun was the most hated newspaper brand; Manchester United was the most hated football brand; and British Airways was voted the most hated airline brand.

Puzzling isn’t it? You see there’s little doubt that each of these is also the most successful brand in their market sector. And the mist only starts to clear when you discover something else…They were all voted the most loved brand in their sector at exactly the same time!

So what’s going on, and what does it tell us about success?

Well the key point here is that each brand has created an impact. They’ve created an emotion in the hearts and minds of potential customers. People know who they are and they have strong feelings about them. Some of this feeling is strongly positive, while other is fiercely negative. There’s a polarity to it. There are many other brands that provoke no hatred at all, and poll a lukewarm level of approval halfway down the loved list. But they’re not nearly so successful.

Strong feelings and emotions are essential if you’re to rouse potential customers out of their passive state into spending money with you. People rarely part with money unless they’ve had their emotions tweaked in some way. They have a strong emotional attachment to their money. They know what they had to do to get it. And they’re not about to part with it to an organisation that doesn’t impact on them at an emotional level.

The upshot of this is that polarising opinion about you and your business is no bad thing. Of course you’d prefer it if everyone loved you. But it’s far better to have half the world thinking you’re the best thing since sliced bread and the other half thinking you’re the devil reincarnate, than it is to have everyone thinking you’re okay. People rarely spend their money on ‘okay’.

In my own business, I never set out to polarise opinion, but it just happened. I know that some of the products we sell are a little controversial, and hard as it is for someone of such delicate sensitivities to admit, I know there are a significant number of people out there who don’t like us very much.

But then there’s the other side of the coin…

For everyone who despises us because we sell books on gambling or avoiding speeding fines, for example, there’s someone else who’s strongly attracted towards us for the very same reason. An easier route would have been to stick to non-contentious subject matter, but it wouldn’t have been nearly so profitable – or nearly so much fun.

I suppose what I’m saying is that there are two routes. You can either be mildly liked by everyone, and make a living, or loved and hated in equal measure and make a million. It’s not quite as straightforward as that, but heck…

Sitting on the fence never got you loved, hated, or rich.

Kind Regards

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John Harrison  


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