5 tips for handling public feedback

We're all used by now to the social free-for-all that kicks off whenever a new logo design or rebrand is revealed. Everyone has an opinion, and being on the receiving end can be an overwhelming experience. DesignStudio's executive creative director, James Hurst, has been there with the Airbnb logo. As part of a YouTube series for Computer Arts, here he shares five tips for successfully handling public feedback.

01. Explain the thinking

When commenting on a new logo, social media users react to a single superficial aspect of a brand identity, not the thinking behind it. So explain that thinking process. "I think we did that well with Airbnb," says Hurst. "We launched a lot of the environment around the logomark itself and told the community why this change should happen. That helped people understand the decisions."

02. Don't rise to the bait

Even if you think your work is being misrepresented on social media, responding directly usually adds more heat than light to the debate, particularly given the abbreviated nature of tweets. "Nine times out of 10, there's no point in trying to address [misconceptions]," says Hurst. "The work is much more complicated than the thing being talked about."

5 tips for handling public feedback

Airbnb's new logo provoked a burst of internet outrage, but the fury soon died down

03. Think long term

The half-life of a tweet is hours, or even minutes. But the real merit of a brand identity emerges over months or years. "There's always a big peak [in social media feedback] but it quickly levees and dies," says Hurst. "Within a few weeks, the tide can already be very positive."

04. Believe in the strategy

Even if the early going is tough, trust in the rigour of your research process and strategic thinking. "If you've done your research right and built the right strategic platform for the brand, it really doesn't matter what the backlash is within the first 72 hours," says Hurst. "You believe in it, and the client believes in it; sometimes it just takes time for the rest of the world to believe in it."

05. Don't back down

"Rebranding requires bravery. Every time a brand flips back to its old logo, it makes it harder for other people to be brave," points out Hurst. So stick to your guns, even if not everyone loves the new identity. "If you took [the logic of trying not to offend anyone] to its natural conclusion, we'd end up with the most boring vanilla set of brands imaginable."

This article originally appeared in Computer Arts issue 254; buy it now!

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James Hurst is executive creative director at DesignStudio.