A New Brand Touchpoint?

When we work with clients on branding issues here at tompeters!company, we emphasize the importance of contacts between any member of an organization and the customer. We refer to them as "touchpoints." Since an organization's brand lives in the client's or customer's mind, the experience they have with members of the organization goes a long way in determining whether they ultimately buy the product or service again. In a world full of choices, the brand acts as a sorting device. Lately, I have noticed a new force in determining whether a buyer is attracted to the brand. A lot of the conversation among my friends lately is discussion of an organization's labor practices and executive compensation. The topic comes up often. For instance, many of my friends have abandoned the Circuit City store after their decision to fire all their sales associates and offer them the chance to reapply for their jobs at a lower wage. And here in Michigan, people frequently talk about Ford, as that company continues to ask for concessions from labor while compensating Mr. Mulally at astronomical levels ($28 million in the first four months of 2007) and provide Mark Fields expense money so he can commute from Florida to Dearborn weekly. Amazingly, he used to fly Ford corporate jets each week, and his flying commercially is seen as a concession! What a sacrifice!

I am not suggesting that sales will plummet for the companies in the above examples, but I do see the impression companies make with their treatment of employees as a new force in the brand wars. So tp.com bloggers, let me know. Is this a touchpoint for you? Do you consider or are you swayed by an organization's business practices when you make a brand choice? Have you ever chosen a different source or product because you don't like how a company acts in areas unrelated to the transaction itself? Any examples?