A Brand is a Knot into which Relationships are Tied

Apr 17, 12 A Brand is a Knot into which Relationships are Tied

Ozzie Guillen and the Miami Marlins are in quite a predicament. Because of Guillen’s recent controversial remarks about a certain Cuban dictator, the baseball team who is all ready struggling to fill the seats in its new stadium just offended its target audience. The target happens to be among the largest MLB fan population in the United States and also one of the most brand loyal populations: Cuban/Latin Americans. Guillen’s lapse in thinking before speaking may cause the Marlins to lose money and their fan base.

The Marlins had not even earned their target over, let alone built loyalty when Time Magazine released the article in which Guillen claimed to “love” and “respect” Fidel Castro. Having just begun the season with a new stadium, new management and new expectations, the Marlins were hoping to increase their fan base by gaining a following among the Latin population in Miami, particularly those residing in the neighborhoods surrounding the stadium. Now, just seven games into the season, they have obviously not earned any loyalty and are conversely facing possible boycotts until Guillen resigns or his contract is terminated.

Brand loyalty, in theory, is a two way street. I invest in your products, and you continue to provide me with top of the line goods and services with guaranteed satisfaction. In that sense, brand loyalty is about building and maintaining a relationship. As with any relationship, purchasing decisions are eased into, they do not happen instantly. Like a first date, I’ll try the brand out. It’s going okay, so I’ll take it to the next level: tell my friends about it. After a while, the brand becomes a part of my life/ identity (I don’t even consider looking at any other brands).

Much is the same when the brand relationship comes to a negative end; the fall outs are hard. If a brand offends me, they can do nothing to get me back. I might have a moment of weakness and return to the brand—give them the chance regain my trust—but most likely I’ll be calling myself an idiot when the brand lets me down again because, this time, I should have known better.

If a business takes its target for granted, then the loyalty will surely disappear (if you are not loyal to me, then why should I be loyal to you?). Right now, the Marlins are going to have to face their consumer base. Possibly Guillen’s five game suspension will be a first step towards rebuilding a relationship with the Latino fan base. Most likely this issue will not go calmly into the night, but will instead remain a shadow hanging over the organization’s head until the Marlins prove to the population in Miami that building a relationship with them is worth it.

“It’s no argument that Ozzie Guillen made a cultural mistake in his comment about Fidel Castro, as many of us have in saying things that were either offensive or taken in that manner,” said George L. San Jose, president and chief operating officer of The San Jose Group. “Ozzie has since apologized publicly for his mishap; I hope that he has learned a valuable lesson – one in which he will be forgiven so he can move forward.”


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