If You Screw Up, Be Honest About It And Your Customers Will Forgive You

The Polaroid-loving Impossible Project messed up badly right out of the gate. How did they handle it? They went to their customers with an honest explanation: “We’re still figuring this out.” Here’s what developed.

Imagine for a moment that your new business was the savior of an entire community. Now, imagine the fallout when your new business accidentally destroyed the trust of that entire community with one defective product.


This imaginary scenario became very real for the Impossible Project a few years ago, shortly after the company launched. As the only producer of classic Polaroid film on the entire planet, the expectations from customers were understandably enormous. When a batch of film rolled off the assembly line with a catastrophic defect, company heads were left with no choice but to go to their devoted clientele with a pure and honest plea.

Dave Bias

“We really felt that we needed our founder to come out and say something to our customers and take it from a bad place to a good place,” says Vice President Dave Bias.

They made a video explaining the root of the problem. The root, of course, was just old-fashioned inexperience, and the customers appreciated the refreshingly personal effort toward corporate responsibility. The fiasco opened a dialogue with consumers and crystalized a positive relationship for years to come.

Bottom Line: When something goes wrong, it’s okay to admit that you’re still figuring it out.

How The Impossible Project Gave Polaroid Cameras A New Lease On Life
When International Business Means Unintentional Humor

[Video produced by Shalini Sharma // Camera & edit by Tony Ditata]


About the author

Colin Weatherby is a writer, videographer, and current Leadership intern at Fast Company. If he's not strapped to a computer, he's usually on top of a mountain.