Managing perception and leading with it

“Perception becomes reality” – is one of the marketing’s cardinal principles. Taken to its extreme, it could mean working away at improving our perception, i.e. “our brand,” at the expense of everything else. In this race to improve perception, it is easy to forget that…

… companies renowned for good customer service start by providing great customer service.
… we get better at leadership by caring more about people, processes, and results than the next person.
… a person’s network is directly proportional to a person’s net worth – valued either by money or by character – sometimes both.
… and so on.

Perception undoubtedly matters. But, building a brand on perception is akin to vaporware. A select few manage to use the fuel from vaporware to build great products. Most don’t.

The most reliable way to build brands – organizational and personal – is by actually doing/building good things that create value and/or impact people in positive ways. Once you work on improving reality, it is critical to manage perception.

But, beware leading with it.

Whatsapp’s annoying notification screen

Ever since the latest Whatsapp update, I find myself having to close this screen nearly every time I open up the app. Notifications for most apps on my phone are turned off as I like checking them when I want to. This is just a massive annoyance.

A couple of thoughts on this –

1. Some Whatsapp Product Manager probably decided this might be the best way to make sure users always turn on notifications. Perhaps it is one of their key performance indicators. If this is the case, it strikes me as a shockingly short term move that will only ends up annoying users. I’ve been a big Whatsapp cheerleader on this blog before. This screen is killing that goodwill.

2. There’s one part of me that would just like to say – “Give us some credit, Whatsapp. How about thinking we users might actually know how to operate a phone?”

3. Then, there’s the other side that wonders if the Product Managers/Engineers at Whatsapp have lost touch with the user. Maybe they love the app so much that they can’t imagine a scenario where users may want no notifications on their phone?

4. Now, if users actually do need help with understanding how to switch on notifications, there is still middle ground. For example, they could design the app such that I have an option to stop the screen from showing up (like the “Don’t show this again” checkbox).

A nice learning for all of us who design product experiences for users. If you’re designing a “reminder” feature that will annoying your user into doing what you’d like them to do, stop. There’s always another way.