I have read much about brand and how important it is to a company. Some of the articles and books I find helpful and some less so. However, the importance of brand was made crystal clear a few weeks ago. Let me share the story.
My wife and I purchased an RV (Airstream Interstate) primarily for the purpose of business travel. We chose this because of size (smaller), good reviews about the unit, road handling AND the Airstream reputation. We picked it up at an Ohio dealer and decided to stay in the area over the weekend (nice part of Ohio). Unfortunately, we have had several problems with the unit (water hose not properly connected with sprayed water inside the unit and it ruined a piece of electrical equipment, a broken light, and a door rattle). The dealer quickly addressed these. We still have some rattles that should not be there but I have been told that it typically takes an owner of a new RV six months to find them and fix them. However, I purchased the Airstream product because of the quality reputation of its products; in short, its brand. Now, my view of the Airstream is beginning to be changed negatively because of the reality of the experience.
One thing to add is that I did write a letter to the service manager and copied the dealership and the CEO of Airstream. The letter basically expressed my disappointment, so far, with the Airstream brand and outlined the problems we have experienced. While their customer service helped to improve a not-so-good situation, I asked that the letter be shared with their manufacturing and engineering people to look for ways to make the product better and improve quality. So far, no response to my letter. Unfortunately, this puts another "nick" in the brand experience.
While great customer service always helps to reinforce a brand experience, there must be more. If it is positioned as a premium brand, which Airstream is, the product must deliver on this brand promise. As I think about the Airstream brand now I wonder about it.
I will let you know if I hear from Airstream.