If the woman with snakes crawling out of her bra does not do the trick for you, then just scroll on. You have your choice of ill-fitting bikini-clad men who opted out of the Brazilian wax or every permutation of the permed mullet hairstyle you can imagine. There are over 1900 pages on People of Walmart, a site devoted to adding levity to users’ lives at the expense of people who shop at the world’s largest retailer.

New content for People of Walmart is never-ending. This should be obvious to anyone who has shopped at a Walmart. With more than 5,000 locations open 24 hours, the most colorful and odd humans are bound to wander into the fluorescent, expansive aisles. Add cameras on phones, and you have internet troll gold.

But before we slip into the convenient schadenfreude pile-on of Walmart’s customers, take a critical look at this phenomenon from a brand perspective. By welcoming daily the pantsless millions, Walmart positions itself as an approachable brand. In that respect People of Walmart, which some would view as a liability, is a brand asset. You don’t have to shower before you shop here. Just come on in.

But this is not a blanket praise piece about Walmart.

The company averages 17 new lawsuits per day from current and former employees for unfair human resources practices. And I have witnessed the pressure they put on branded products to reduce prices. Not to mention the fact that much of what you will find on the shelves was made under unfair labor conditions.
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Many argue that Walmart rips away at the economic fabric of rural communities. Their presence eliminates the need for local, hard-scrabble businesses, and when Walmart location becomes less profitable, the company leaves the town a hollow shell and reduces its community identity.

Oh, and the logo looks like a sphincter (try to unsee that now).

The criticism aimed at the brand is deserved. But there is something undeniable that is happening and a savvy person who cares about branding can see this. Despite all of that reputation, they create a welcoming place for virtually anyone to shop at any time. In a sea of political correctness and digital cruelty, Walmart offers a safe port. It cries to the huddled masses and will not judge any one of them.

And the brand uses this position to its advantage on social issues. Recently, they became the first retailer to leverage their position in removing products containing Confederate flags. This is not without some risk and controversy among those who shop at Walmart. But it is a brand decision. With that decision, they make their brand more approachable and friendly. Other retailers soon followed suit.

Simply, the People of Walmart are people. In case you forgot, you are in the same soup. And Walmart reminds you of this. My benediction for you is that you begin to choose a path and thought process that is radically particular to your brand.

You begin this process by halting your dichotomous judgment of other – Walmart is neither good nor bad. Instead, when the internet tells you to believe something, take instead a thoughtful and critical look at your truth. From Walmart, there are lessons in approachability and acceptance, and, if you were to listen to the internet trolls, you would miss out on them.

Ask yourself what other possibilities are out there for your brand. Are you that approachable and teachable? Are you willing to bravely make decisions based on your brand?

photo credit: Art via photopin (license)

Article written by

account executive/branding guru/runner of many miles