I think our gut reaction is to interact with a brand as if it's human. Or, more specifically, we don't distinguish 'brand' from 'person' in rigid terms; we respond to a brand's actions as if it's a friend/acquaintance/enemy/etc.

This comes to mind because of the KFC debacle. At this point, I'm assuming everyone has seen the FCK apology and marveled at how genius it is-- which, of course, it is.

More interesting to me though is that the reaction KFC is generating can only be created through empathy. If there was a rigid expectation from consumers that a company manage its supply chain properly, then the PR moves post-meltdown would be irrelevant. Customers would fume regardless of what KFC says or does.

But, of course, this isn't the case. There's massive room for a negative situation to be put to a business's benefit, even when the most embarrassing mistakes occur (as KFC puts it, 'a chicken restaurant without any chicken').

Empathy. We typically think of it in terms of just being empathetic towards the customer. The business being understanding of the customer's values and concerns. But, of course, this can go both ways as long as the communication is on-point, which is what we're seeing here.

The broader idea of establishing empathy is the important part of what's going on, not the pithy copy of 'FCK' that's being passed around.

Brandon Cohn