A brand, a hallmark, a mark of the trade. From the beginning, a brand’s purpose has been to let people know the origin of the goods. Over time, for some brands, it has become something significantly more. A mirror on our identity as consumers, tribe members and citizens.
When someone criticizes one of these brands, these ‘us’ brands, we take the criticism personally. So, if you’re a Harley person/customer, someone criticizing Harley Davidson is like a personal attack. Same goes for those that identify so closely with Levis, or the Catholic Church or an iconic politician. This is me, I am that, we are labels for each other and walking advertisements for many of our beloved brands.
At some level, this seems like the gold standard for a brand. To be so closely identified with a product and a mission, it means that advertising is no longer the primary fuel for the brand’s future. Keeping your brand’s quality and customer appeal becomes the most important factors in your future sales.
The risk is that when your brand stumbles, you won’t have to merely confront those non-customers that might have thought less of you and started the stumbling. You’ll need to understand that when you fail, everybody does. All the people who have carved out little pieces of their identity will now have to look elsewhere.