Bad Times for Brand Martha

"Company founders have long believed that placing their name on their company signals their willingness to stake their personal reputation and stand behind their products," observes the University of Pennsylvania's business school. "That's fine when things are going well and the company and the CEO whose name it bears are held in high regard. But what if the CEO falls from grace? What happens to a company if the CEO's name is in effect its brand o and then that name is tarnished? Rarely has that question come up more sharply than in the case of Martha Stewart, America's long-reigning diva of decor, who was recently convicted on conspiracy and other charges. ... When it is done right, brand personification can tap into the human desire to belong to a community. In the case of Martha Stewart ... customers could virtually lose their identity to that of the brand."