I just finished watching Andre Agassi compete in the first round of the US Tennis Open. This is Andre's final US Open, and 20,000+ spectators literally willed him to win this evening. Eighteen years ago, Agassi was not the most popular person. But this evening, with his career nearly over, people celebrated the brand known as "Agassi".
We do the same thing when a co-worker decides to leave a company. We forgive past transgressions, and celebrate all of the positives.
We don't do the same thing when a brand is tired and weak, and ready to retire. We are more likely to bury a tired and weak brand. Few people rallied to support Montgomery Wards, when it was tired and weak. Not a lot of consumers are showing loyalty to GM or Ford, at a time when they are tired and weak. With brands, we are much less forgiving than we are with co-workers. Given the amount of money that changes hands between consumers and brands, and the ways that a brand will fall on the side of "increasing shareholder value", we probably should be less forgiving.
The lesson of the past two days, for me, is that there really isn't a relationship between customers and brands. And if I am wrong, I speculate that the depth of a relationship between customer and brand is very, very shallow.