Relationship vs. Authority

It’s been a long day, so you head to a new bar on the way home and order a common beer. All of the sudden, the craft brew police behind the counter launches into a tirade about your poor taste. He clearly knows his stuff — but you clearly want to punch him in the face.

In this case, no matter how much beer bro knows, all his credibility is lost. He’s uninvited… and you just want to enjoy your beer without being judged.

Another scenario: You stop by that new bar, and order that common beer. After a few trips and a conversation or two, the bartender makes a suggestion. They’ve notice you prefer a lager, and point out a complementary option. You listen as they explain how this new beer is similar to the one you’ve been drinking. You give it a go because a foundation of trust has been established through relationship before authority.


This is the lesson that all brands, especially institutions and experts, have to digest. No one likes a know it all, no matter how important the information. You’ve got to build a bridge of relationship, strong enough for your expertise to cross.

You’ve got to show you care.

Craig Birchfield is the creative director/agent of chaos at James & Matthew. He’s a transplanted Floridian in the frozen wonderland of Massachusetts and enjoys the little things in life - mostly scotch and cigars.