Defined, being “infamous” is not a good thing at first glance. Being infamous means that you have an extremely bad reputation, making it a goal for many people to not be infamous.
Well, I don’t like to think that way. More to the point, I choose not to make my goals dependent on words described by vague words like “bad” or “good.”
There is power in being infamous, because there is power in perception. There is power in extremes. When someone boldly categorizes you in an extreme, there is overt power in that.
Power that gives you control (or at least the opportunity to control).
Of course, you don’t want a bad reputation for certain things. JetBlue doesn’t want to be infamous for stranding its customers on the tarmac, Tylenol definitely doesn’t want to be infamous for poisoning its customers with cyanide, and you don’t want to be infamous for basically being bad at what you want to be good at.
The power of perception, even supposedly negative perception, allows you to do several things:
- Have a widespread conversation
- Initiate the conversation
- Control the conversation
This falls back on the notion that we can almost always use something bad for good. Even better, using your biggest weakness as your biggest strength as Sun Tzu would say.
I’m not speaking to striving for becoming “infamous” or some kind of antagonistic troll. What I am challenging you to do is to rethink perception when reacting to the onset of an infamous persona being thrust upon you. More plainly, when we are obsessed with trying to avoid becoming “infamous,” we may miss an opportunity while still becoming infamous in the end.
Take a note from some famous brands that have used their biggest weaknesses and turned them into opportunities:
- Avis – “We Try Harder” campaign is famous for positioning Avis being “second best” as a good thing.
- Barnes and Noble – The “Nook” was Barnes and Noble’s way of controlling the conversation surrounding the rise of e-books.
- AT&T – “It Can Wait” campaign showed this phone brand’s response to cell phones being infamous for “texting while driving” fatalities that are on the rise.
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