The first point is that Blogs and instant personal publishing are leading the entire brand democratization front. Face it, this is going to be a huge corporate communication challenge as PR professionals begin to deal with issues like this (even though my guess is that they will not even know postings like the following exist about their own company):
I purchased two mirrors today from a home furnishing chain called Zone - or Zone Maison. The Zone Montreal store experience is excellent - from the choice and selection to the style and even down to the look of the Zone employees. Combined, it all lives the Zone Maison brand of modern cool and quality with mid-range pricing. Zone really "fits" in terms of the style and people of Montreal.
I realize that there is no way these mirrors are going to fit in the car. I inquire about delivery and the Zone employee says there is a forty-five dollar delivery charge. Seems fair enough. As she begins to ring up the price, she informs me that if the delivery person can't do it by themselves, I would have to assist them in getting the Zone mirrors into the house.
Here comes the second point: Zone Montreal is a fairly mid to high price experience and if you are going to charge for delivery (most places add delivery free of charge as a client service), you're certainly killing the brand experience with thoughts of me having to help the delivery guy move these mirrors into my house.
I get frustrated with the Zone sales person, who then tells me that they can send two delivery people, but that will be seventy dollars. She is clearly not exuding the Zone Maison experience anymore.
So there it goes. Down the drain. Done. Gone. There's no coming back. Zone, which in my mind always held a high-cool fashion vibe, now has the same brand experience as a major (and boring) department store.
I don't feel good about the mirrors anymore. I don't feel good about the Zone experience. I don't believe in the Zone brand anymore. And worse, here I am Blogging about it because that's what brand democratization is all about - letting everyone know what they can expect... and what they should expect beyond what a company like Zone wants you to think.
It's not just Zone Maison. All companies need to learn the new world of branding: we (the people) are the sum of your brand. Not your logo, not your ads, not your store experience and not your website.