The truth about the Jeremy Clarkson row by Mark Borkowski

Not to state the obvious, but behaviour is vital. Yet it would appear that very few organisations or individuals understand how their behaviour is seen and felt – and that is all a “brand” is. A feeling.

Still the walls have finally fallen. Gone are the days when brands could spin their own story and behave as they pleased. This is a world defined by the crowd. If you want to succeed in this climate you have to embrace two things.

1. You must understand what you look like to others. How you “package” yourself is vital.

2. You have to learn to love those haters!

Take Jeremy Clarkson. A man resolutely himself, much loved and widely loathed – a child at heart with an independent streak who connects with all sorts of people, of all sorts of creeds across the globe and makes them laugh. But this hasn’t been his finest hour.

In light of the column miles dedicated to his use of a word, Clarkson apologised using a video channel to do so, in common with our modern times! It didn’t really work for him. Instead, he should have embraced his detractors and ridden out the storm.

Do we really believe he is a racist, as the sensitive liberals or Twitter trolls would have us believe? Or just a man guilty of puerile behaviour? Whatever, his apology fuelled the backlash.

Clarkson, like many brands, needs a strong outside view to avoid other people being given the chance to tell their stories. They need to learn to take advice but not of the “trust-me” kind – the kind that addresses the behaviour we don’t recognise ourselves. The blindingly obvious is seldom just that, and past experience is rarely your friend these days – a strong filter bubble is.

We need to get outside of the normal view and begin to understand exactly what “trust” means. Then we need a critical friend who can ask the right questions. Empathy is a much banded notion in a world defined by experience. But as we question things critically and impartially, we can begin to gather empathy for people and then we see it doesn’t have to be like this. “This” being a fast, out-of-control communications landscape.

We can define and control our own story, circumvent the naysayers and just be ourselves.

Blindingly obvious? Of course.

Mark Borkowski, founder of