High Fructose Corn Syrup, not so sweet.

Would a sugar taste as sweet by another name? I say absolutely. Even sweeter. High fructose corn syrup has become public enemy number one in the fight against obesity. Having successfully attacked trans-fat the food police have turned to high fructose corn syrup with great vim and vigor. And great success. Sales of high fructose corn syrup are in rapid decline. But what is “real” and what is not? Hard to say. But when you give your product a name like “high fructose corn syrup,” it doesn’t sound very real at all. In fact, the name sounds dangerous.

McDonald’s Goes Above & Beyond

McDonald’s moved at lightning speed and initiated a voluntary recall of its popular Shrek glasses that contained trace amounts of a toxic metal. While the spread of the tainted-glassware story certainly posed a problem for McDonald’s, the glassware itself wasn’t all that dangerous. Many companies would have used this evidence to counter-attack critics. Many companies would have also shifted the blame to a supplier. McDonald’s did neither. In its response, McDonald’s went above and beyond.

BP has a Brand Problem

BP talked the talk but never walked the walk. Like many companies in unpopular industries, BP launched a massive advertising campaign to put a little lipstick on the oil pig. Advertising is not very good at changing strongly-held perceptions, but in BP’s case it actually worked. However, the “holier than thou” tone of BP’s advertising placed the company on a perilously high green pedestal it was sure to fall from.

What should Goldman Do?

What does Goldman Sachs need to do to save its brand? In a word, nothing. A powerful, leading brand is practically bullet-proof. It’s not what you do wrong that determines if your brand will survive a scandal. It’s how strong your brand is in the mind that determines if your brand will survive. Strong brands survive even the worst catastrophes, while weak ones can easily be destroyed by minor ones.

It’s what Tiger does next that counts

Tiger Woods was a rare breed. A phenomenal athlete who delivered consistent record-shattering victories on and off the course with style, grace and integrity. In an intense game like golf, Tiger built his reputation by performing under pressure. Tiger transcended from being one of the best athletes ever to being one of the best celebrity brands ever. That was then, this is now. The world’s good boy has suddenly gone bad. The guy who seemed to be perfect in every way has been discovered to be a mere mortal like the rest of us. Tiger’s fall from grace is a catastrophe we have never seen before because Tiger was a brand we have never seen before. Tiger’s image was so pure, so squeaky clean and so universally appealing that his God-like status, his walking-on-water video and the founding of the First Church of Tiger Woods all seemed so well-deserved.

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