mPulse

Friday, January 2, 2009

Branding, Authority, and Reputation: A Parable

On a fine July day, a local man runs into a neighborhood bar carrying a stack of pamphlets, and wearing the hat announcing a new service. His beaming smile and easy attitude made the rest of the patrons want to listen to him.

"I have seen the greatest new thing in the history of our species," he started. "A man in this very town has created a simple potion that, when taken once a month, allows your teeth to gleam, your farts to smell like rainbows, and gold coins to appear instantly from your fingertips!"

The crowd surged around him, listening to his spiel. They were spellbound, and chattered amongst themselves enthusiastically.

Then a local Man of Prestige entered the bar and listened for a few minutes. He shouted down the smiling pitchman and, with a sarcastic sneer on his face, said, "That's Crazy Joe's stuff isn't it?"

The crowd stopped shouting and started murmuring.

"Crazy Joe has been tinkering in his garage for years," the Man of Prestige started to say, not repressing his mirth. "One of his potions turned his dog into a three-legged, one-eyed rabbit with a rat-tail. His family has left him, and he is living on hand-outs."

The Man of Prestige made his final point: "Why would you by something from a failure like Crazy Joe?"

The murmur had turned into a beehive buzz. Then someone shouted, "Look! It's Crazy Joe!"

As Joe walked into the bar, expecting the welcome of a returning hero, he was met by jeers and shouts of derision. The crowd occasionally looked to the Man of Prestige to ensure he was still laughing.

"Drinks on me!", Shouted the Man of Prestige, and the crowd followed him to the other end of the bar for their free gift for believing in his opinion.

Joe was near tears. His pitchman was in shock. After a moment, Joe spoke up. Looking at his pitchman, he said, "C'mon. I'll buy you a drink."

They sat at the empty end of the bar as the Man of Prestige regaled the crowd with tales of himself and his ventures and investments. They watched in disgust for a few minutes, then Joe ordered two shots of scotch for each of them.

A few seats down, two strangers from another town sat. They had no idea who the Man of Prestige was, or why he was so quick to dismiss this possible great idea. They sat, quietly watching Joe and his pitchman shoot down their drinks, take one more forlorn look to the end of the bar, and get up to leave.

Then, they watched in incredulous disbelief as Joe create three solid gold coins from his index finger to pay for the drinks.

The strangers gaped as Joe and the pitchman walked out, then looked back to the gabbling madness surrounding the Man of Prestige, all of whom were oblivious to the great thing that had just happened.

The strangers jumped from their stools and ran off after Joe and the pitchman, pulling money from their pockets as they ran.

4 comments:

  1. Got me thinking. Thanks. Funny how authority is typically abusive.

    ReplyDelete
  2. In this example, the Authority figure (the Man of Prestige) is abusive of the new idea. In some cases, Authority will be helpful. In all cases, you have to balance Authority with your own experiences and the Reputation of the service.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Got me thinking. Thanks. Funny how authority is typically abusive.

    ReplyDelete
  4. In this example, the Authority figure (the Man of Prestige) is abusive of the new idea. In some cases, Authority will be helpful. In all cases, you have to balance Authority with your own experiences and the Reputation of the service.

    ReplyDelete