Your brand has gotten a bad review or a scathing piece of criticism. You’re mortified. You’re stunned. You’re concerned that this small, but detrimental, comment could be the death of your brand.

Whoa, whoa, whoa. Not only is this an overreaction, it’s a mis-reaction. You see, brand criticism is not only a fact of brand life, it’s a valuable element in your quest to build a brand. With every piece of criticism comes a smorgasbord of opportunities to build a brand.

Allow me to explain…

Build a Brand with your Responses to Criticism

We’ve spoken in the past about how your brand isn’t meant for everyone. There are those who will look the other way because it’s not right for them. There are those who will be critical toward it, because it doesn’t meet their needs. And then there are those who will be downright nasty, making idiotic remarks and cutting it down just for spite.

You have the power to use every piece of criticism to build a brand. Here’s what the branding experts at How to Build a Brand recommend:

  • Be active in your social media accounts. Not only will you be able to respond to negative comments and defuse them quickly, you can overpower them with lots of positive posts about your brand.
  • Do not delete critical comments. Deleting comments says a lot about your brand to the negative commentator, as well as to the rest of your audience—and it’s nothing good.
  • Get personal. Avoid canned answers, meant to neutralise every situation. People will sense that they’re being blown off with a “FAQ Answer” and will go away (or fire back) with even more bitterness. Take the time to address every criticism individually, and with attention to detail.
  • Acknowledge any wrongdoing. If you made an error, exercised poor judgment, were unfair or inconsistent…recognise and own what you’ve done. Admit to it.  Make no excuses. Then directly proceed to show how you will improve.
  • Correct errors. If a negative comment includes “facts” that are incorrect, provide the information necessary for proper commentary. Do so with grace—this is no time for mudslinging. Also, surround the deliverance of truth with advice, invitations, or anything else that will demonstrate your brand’s good will.
  • Offer solutions to problems. Your responses to negative comments shouldn’t be all about proving you’re right. Instead, they should be rich with valuable advice and offers of help for solving problems. Turn negativity into a chance to build a brand, whenever possible.
  • Ignore insolence. If someone is childish enough to make rude, hurtful comments just for the fun of it, then they will surely engage in an argument that will not benefit your brand. They want you to respond. They want you to bring yourself down by losing your temper. Overlook rudeness and move on.
  • Stick to your corporate values. Whether you’re deciding which comments to address, or actually addressing any specific comment, always keep your values at the forefront. Display them in all you say and do. Give more credibility to those critical comments that violate your corporate values—whilst giving less to those that have little to do with your vision, mission, or values.
  • Look for fresh-perspective opportunities. Those people making valid, but critical, comments are often in search of answers and solutions. Use these opportunities to build a brand (as well as trust and your expert status) by offering a fresh perspective that may change the way critics see your brand. Also use this as an opportunity to introduce those areas of your brand that aren’t explored enough.


  • Invite more feedback. Show your audience that your brand is not rattled by a little bit of negativity. After you address what’s at hand, invite people to speak up—to join in the conversation, and use what’s brought up to build a brand.
  • Maintain a sense of humour. Even if someone cracks a joke at the expense of your brand, laugh along. They would probably enjoy seeing you fire back—but show them how resilient and confident your brand really is.
  • Take conversations offline if necessary. Resolving any online issue should never turn into a back-and-forth between parties. This will not cast a positive light on your brand. Arrange for an IM, email, or phone conversation to resolve issues. And no matter the communication media, always remember to demonstrate your brand’s values and maintain professionalism.
  • Study your competitors’ responses. Take note of how your competitors respond to negative comments and feedback. Are they leaving people unsatisfied with their responses? Are they firing back and going against their corporate values? Are they ignoring opportunities to build a brand? Do what they aren’t, and you will have a stand-out brand.
  • Always end every interaction with a “Thank You.” Your brand can do nothing but shine when it defuses a negative situation and then thanks the critic for valuable information that will be used to build a brand. This is the kind of behaviour that turns nasty critics into brand fans and loyal clients.
  • Have a plan. Most brands will endure some sort of negative commentary. Be ready for it. Know what your competitors are saying about your brand. Know your weaknesses and use your strengths to overshadow them.

There are an infinite number of ways to build a brand—and all of them involve getting in there and interacting with the people who mean the most to your brand. It also means understanding that the people who mean the most aren’t always your brand heroes. Sometimes, they’re the ones who aren’t satisfied or who will try to bring it down.

You can turn negative situations into brand-building ones with some sound advice to help you build a brand. To get more where this came from, please get in touch with us on [email protected] and get your daily branding tips by subscribing to our YouTube channel at

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