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“Brand killers”

“This is a brand killer,” is something that I have been hearing of late. A “brand killer” is something that can be described as violating what people expect and will tolerate from a brand, to the point that it affects the business itself. Between United Airlines, Publix, and Bose, the hits keep coming.

I think people feel the most concern or emotion when a brand violates their purpose and engage in activities that deviate from our expectations. For example:

  • United Airlines’ “fly the friendly skies” is meant to get you from point A to point B in a fast, safe way. Recently, social was abuzz with everything going on with a passenger assaulted on the flight.
  • Publix is meant to provide amazing service and food. Recently, seven stores failed public safety inspections (as an avid Publix fan and advocate, I was very sad).
  • Bose is meant to provide a great listening experience. Instead, they are allegedly recording what people are listening to and selling it to other companies.

As these are brands I use semi-frequently and had some attachment to, I was very surprised that these types of stories happened. With the advent of the web, and the ability for people to post just about anything (a challenge that Facebook is scrambling to address), will brands be forced to step up their game?

Some have already started by working on their marketing, like [redacted]. Some have been trying with new products. As how people interact with brands and the amount people can self-publish changes, it is fundamentally changing how people interact with brands and how brands need to respond to customers.

Social media has changed the position of power from the company to the customer. Previously, companies didn’t have the self-check of their consumers reviewing or talking about them since publishing was limited to the empowered newspapers and magazines. Now, consumers have the ability to be an additional sensor on what companies are doing and demand they do better.

How will brands continue to step up (or fall down) moving forward and what can brands do to proactively work with consumers?

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