Summary

Part of me is surprised that companies spend so much time building up a brand only to let short sighted business decisions undermine it. Another part of me isn't surprised at all. That's what upper management is incented to do. You have to admire Steve Jobs for insisting on quality over quick fixes as he worked to bring Apple back. The call of quick profits is hard to resist.

Stevie smoked ribs for Sunday dinner - rocked!

I had an experience this week that made me appreciate the dangers of slapping your brand on any old product as well as the dividends paid by good customer service. Here's the story:

Last summer, I was shopping for a new grill for the patio. I had a 12 year old Weber that I loved but it was getting pretty beat up and long in the tooth. The problem was that when I looked at the Webers, I was put off by the price--especially in light of a shiny, beefy unit from Jenn Air that was being sold by Costco. I'd had good luck with Jenn Air before and I trusted Costco, so I bought it.

Over time, I came to be deeply disappointed in the Jenn Air. It didn't get hot enough to cook well and it flamed up all the time, burning the meat. My 12 year old Weber had done better. I came to find out that the Jenn Air is just a rebranded Nexgrill. I came to hate it. I didn't even want to cook steaks. This was getting very serious.

Last Saturday I took it back to Costco and they refunded my money. One of the reasons I buy things at Costco is because they have great customer service. They will make you happy no matter what and I value that. Consequently I will buy from Costco even when I can get the same thing somewhere else for less. Costco's actions in this case reinforced my loyalty to their brand.

On the other hand Jenn Air has really damaged their brand in my eyes. I will hesitate the next time I think of buying something from Jenn Air wondering if it's just some cheap junk that they've slapped their brand on. Where they were once a brand I revered, they are now a company I'm leery of.

Part of me is surprised that companies spend so much time building up a brand only to let short sighted business decisions undermine it. Another part of me isn't surprised at all. That's what upper management is incented to do. You have to admire Steve Jobs for insisting on quality over quick fixes as he worked to bring Apple back. The call of quick profits is hard to resist.

Oh, and if you're wondering, I'm buying a Weber grill (the Genesis S-330) and looking forward to falling in love with grilling again. There's another brand I've come to love--regardless of the price.