Brands with a bullseye on their back

Have you noticed that there are some brands that the marketing/advertising trade press + bloggers just love to hate?  They are brands that operate with a bullseye on their back – seems like they can’t do many things right.  Alternately, there are brands that are seemingly bulletproof and can do no wrong, even if they back a step away from "doing no evil."

I’ve run this idea by a few people; Brad Brodigan at Biz360 felt that there’s some sort of critical mass/industry presence involved.  Joe Chernov at BzzAgent pointed an anti-establishment quality of bulletproof brands.

Who has the bullseye?

  • Wal-Mart comes to mind, ironic when compared to Target
  • Dell vs. Apple
  • AOL vs. Google

Bulletproof brands:  Starbucks, JetBlue, Nike.

I think there’s another aspect in brand strategy – low cost, mass brands seem to attract the bullseye instead of high-margin, "premium" brands.

Maybe it’s better to have a bullseye than the alternative – to just be ignored.  I think this is where Brad’s "critical mass" idea comes in – too big to be ignored but widely accessible, so easily targeted for criticism.

Of course not all "bullseyed" brands are blameless – they’ve certainly taken their lumps for recent mistakes.   But would the backlash have been as bad if they weren’t in the market position they’re in?  Chicken or Egg?