I laughed with most everyone at Saturday Night Live's constant battering of Donald Trump. And it wasn't just SNL. Seth Meyers was the most relentless. Frankly, few late-night hosts could resist skewering the president elect because of his constant blunders, his wildly inappropriate public comments, his absolutely ludicrous butchering of policy interpretation, and constant flip-flopping on polarizing humanitarian issues.

The material wrote itself.

Furthermore, Hillary, her rabid followers, the media, and our sitting president's foregone conclusion of a landslide victory clearly came off as smug. The late-night shows and Clinton community fed each other, until the silent majority of Donald Trump's supporters had just had enough.

They didn't need the email scandals, the FBI, any of it. The constant smugness created by both the Hillary Clinton brand and the support of it, often intertwined (note President Obama's quip that the only place he could see Trump deliver a State of the Union was on a Saturday Night skit), became unbearable to the only group who could stop the election victory. So they did.

Brands fall into the same trap. Apple is dealing with a smug phase after Steve Jobs's departure. with consumers finally calling it on releasing products that simply weren't as world-changing as they had once been. Still, the brand didn't acknowledge it. Whole Foods is endlessly trying to dig out of the perception that its grocery "curation" is so superior, it's worthy of your whole paycheck.

In one of my favorite South Park episodes, the hybrid emits smug instead of smog.

Consumers hate smugness. Al Gore was accused of it a generation ago, and it was the only other time since the 1800s the popular vote didn't carry the election. An aligned group of followers vehemently came to the defense of not only their candidate, but the apparent dismissal of their values.

Brands that earn respect from their consumers by engagement usually survive. Thrive, even. Method is both humble and responsive. It listens. It does what a consumer asks of it, and gets rewarded for its investment. Target does it. You can be a small brand, like Kind Bar, or a massive corporation, like Target. With an ear to the ground and response to the rumblings, success is much easier.

If not, you drive people to the competition. It isn't even necessarily a vote (dollar or ballot) for them. It's a vote against you.

Published on: Nov 9, 2016