Under normal circumstances, I believe that customer experiences impact a brand more than a brand can possibly influence experience. However, the reverse seems to be true as the Trump brand drives customers away.
Typically, brands like VW and Chipotle suffer because their product injures the health or sensibilities of consumers. Unacceptable products damage brands and those brands suffer until they are able to restore their image. This is normal and expected.
But a recent Washington Post article illustrates a different relationship between brand and experience. Entirely unexpected is the way a damaged brand can negatively impact a customer experience. In this case, the baggage surrounding Trump is preventing experiences altogether as consumers avoid Trump’s businesses. While there could be many reasons why business is down it is difficult to imagine a plausible scenario where the experience at his hotels, casinos and golf courses are substantially worse than before the primary season began. (One implausible scenario is that his focus on the presidential election has drawn his attention away from day-to-day operations.) We are left to conclude that although the product hasn’t changed in any material way, his brand is negatively impacting business.
The pivot point is that when products impact the brand, companies “fix” the product as fast as they can start selling and so that the damage doesn’t bleed over into other products under the brand. But what can a company do when the brand impacts the desirability of the products? “Fix” the brand? I’m not holding my breath and neither should you.