Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Brand Larceny

Unable to convince their customers and Wall Street that splitting the baby was in everyone’s best interest, Netflix beat a hastings retreat from their bone-headed plan qwikster than you can say “New Coke.”
Unwilling to accept another humiliating defeat, Ukrainian President Vikto Yanukovich orchestrated the incarceration of Yulia Tymoshenko, his political rival and the icon of the pro-democracy Orange Revolution.  
Ranzam, Van Damme Swanky Event!

Unmoved by the Human Rights Foundation's plea, two-time Oscar-winner Hilary Swank flew to Chechnya to attend the lavish birthday bash of President Ramzan Kadyrov, whose methods of governing include torture, "disappearances," and other human rights violations. 

It's been a helluva week for brand management.

But one person's PR train wreck is another person's entertainment--or lesson. Here's yours: The best brands--like the best stories--do not belong to you. They belong to your audience, to your market. This is a good thing. You want your brand and your stories to be shared among friends, to grow in popularity organically.

Once you have succeeded in getting people to internalize your brand or your story, you must be very cautious about making any significant changes. People will get angry because you're messing with their emotions, not your brand. Some future cases in point:

Netflix will survive, but Reed Hastings will be forever known as the architect of a spectacular branding disaster. (More on the Netflakes disaster here.)

Hilary Swank is about to embark on her Million-Dollar-Baby-I'm-Sorry tour which will cost her every cent she got paid for partying with the bad dogs and a good deal of her positive image.

And when Yulia Tymoshenko emerges from prison--in her orange jumpsuit--she will catapult to the front line of the Orange Revolution and promptly take Viktor down. Once again.

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