My office is right across the street from Shake Shack and I am a regular there, so when I started seeing hundreds of tweets regarding their change from crinkle cut to fresh cut fries, I started paying attention. Shake Shack made the announcement on Tuesday by tweeting out a picture of their new fries (which I must admit, look delicious) and within minutes there was a furry of outraged fans saying that these new fries will NEVER replace crinkle cut in their hearts (or wallets).
New product or identity introduction can be a tough time for brands, never knowing how their fans will react and if it will lead to viral hysteria or joy. In 2010, Gap attempted to rebrand their logo and got a whirlwind of negative responses from fans and media and ended with them returning to the original design. Another example that came to mind was Netflix's failed Qwikster project which not only led to them abandoning the project but in the process experienced a huge Twitter #fail when it was revealed that @Qwikster was revealed to be a personal account with a less than desirable demeanor.
So how should brands deal with this type of negativity? Exactly like Shake Shack is.
Without wavering once, Shake Shack has maintained their normal, light-hearted tone of voice and continues to stand strong behind their new fresh fries on all their social channels. This not only shows that they are confident about this change but that they aren't afraid to stand their ground and even push back a little when fans get feisty. I suspect their motto has now become, "Keep Calm and Fresh Fry On".
So what does that mean for all the community managers and brands out there that have new introductions coming up in the pipeline? No need to take notes, this one is easy to remember. Maintain your messaging and stand by your decision, because in the end, that will aid in dictating how consumers receive your change.