A really interesting article on the Forbes website, talking about Matthew McConaughey rebranding himself. They talk about his age being a big factor in him redefining himself. Doing it has opened up a whole new type of film for him. And it’s been rather successful, what with him winning an Oscar and all that.

Matthew McConaughey

But what’s really interesting about the article is somewhat hidden towards the end of it.

Towards the end it touches on a really true point – the advent of social media and cameras everywhere means that you don’t have total control over your brand. So always tell the truth. Treat your customers like the smart people they are.

You have to make sure that whatever you rebrand yourself as, it’s believable. That it rings true. And your behaviours have to back that up. There’s no point claiming to be one thing and then failing to back that up with your actions. Consumers are not stupid. They know how to use social media and make what you consider to be small issues into giant ones. The proverbial mountains out of molehills.

And once the genie is out of the bottle it’s very, very hard to put back in. The other thing that people sometimes fail to grasp is that once it’s on the internet it’s unlikely to ever go away. So one bad piece of customer service from your company four years ago can come back to haunt you anytime a search brings it up.

Make sure you are always honest with your customers. Even if you have bad news to tell them. One of my favourtie ever art directors, Helmut Krone, summed it up best when he said: “A little admission gains a great acceptance”. He was the genius at Doyle Dane Barnbach (DDB) who, basically, changed the advertising landscape with his groundbreaking Volkswagen ads in the 60s.

What he meant was that if you’re honest with your customers they’ll trust you. They know you’ll give it to them straight, whatever the news. Once you lie, and they know it, it’s almost impossible to regain their trust. A bit like shutting the door after the horse has bolted.

Mark Twain knew it, even all those years ago. He said: “When in doubt, tell the truth.” And it’s even more true now than it was then.

So, feel free to rebrand. But make sure it all comes from a truth about your company or product. And credit your customers with intelligence. Because, as Matthew proves, if you get it right there can be glittering prizes awaiting.