People come to me all the time and ask: “OB, how can I tell I need a brand-management program?”

My answer is always the same: “There are many ways in which you can tell you need a brand-management program. But one of the most important ones is the way in which you respond to the publication of something like this.”

So, as a public service, out of the goodness of my Irish heart — and granting that information on publicly traded companies can’t be meaningfully controlled because it can be gleaned from and by all manner of stock analysts, traders, economists, academics, financial advisors, and would-be industry experts — here are the top 10 things you shouldn’t do in response to something like that.

From the Top

  1. Panic. The only things you might accomplish by panicking over such a publication are passing out from hyperventilation, getting an ulcer, or ruining a perfectly good pair of undershorts.
  2. Deny it. If there were ever a time to take seriously the old axiom, “Never believe anything until it’s officially denied,” this would be it.
  3. Confirm it. If you corroborate the assertions that you’re unknown — and that you’re the low-cost provider to boot — it’s not the end. But it’s the beginning of the end.
  4. Counter it. This is directly related to #8. And aside from the fact that no one will believe you anyway, you’ll only invoke bad karma. Besides, the view is better from the high road.
  5. Run from it. Unless you’re a cheetah, Usain Bolt, or a politician, you’ll never be fast or slippery enough to stay ahead of something like that. Suck it up and ride it out.
  6. Say the devil made you do it. As with #6, unless you’re a politician, you’ll never get away with it. Plus, any individuation between a politician and the devil is a distinction without a difference.
  7. Act like it. This is no time to be a shrinking violet. Put on five pairs of big-boy pants, go out, kick ass, take names, make sure everything you do is positive, and make sure everyone knows it.
  8. Get cold feet. If you’re going to let something like this cause you to lose the courage of your convictions, all the heated socks in the world won’t help.
  9. Fail to learn from it. Even if the lesson is to keep your head down and your (cold) feet moving, learn it. Few teachers are as effective as fear or failure.
  10. And the number one thing you should never do with a publication like this is share it. Good grief. God invented social media so you could network, brag about your accomplishments, virtue-signal, and let your friends know you just farted. He didn’t invent it so you could deliberately share condescending judgments about your own company. (You’ll be forgiven if you think I made any of that up. You’ll also be wrong.)

Stay the Course

If you launch anything, you’re going to hit a few snags. And even if liftoff is flawless, you’re going to encounter a few technical difficulties and some turbulence. But don’t abort the mission, eject from the cockpit, or cave to the people who make their livings by trying to set you up for failure. If they’re not any better than that, ignore them.

And remember: They don’t have to be any better than that. You do.

Photo of the aborted Gemini 6 launch courtesy of the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum.