Does one bad product taint the brand?

Yes­ter­day I pur­chased a Blue Snow­ball Snow­flake USB micro­phone. I was going to use it to record some voice-overs for an upcom­ing Empire Aven­ue over­view video, but as you can guess by my use of the word ‘was’ in this sen­tence, it did­n’t happen. The Flaw You see, the mic was bad. DOA. Toast. This was…

Yes­ter­day I pur­chased a Blue Snow­ball Snow­flake USB micro­phone. I was going to use it to record some voice-overs for an upcom­ing Empire Aven­ue over­view video, but as you can guess by my use of the word ‘was’ in this sen­tence, it did­n’t happen.

The Flaw
You see, the mic was bad. DOA. Toast.

This was a new mic, in a sealed box, not a recon­di­tioned one (don’t get me star­ted on my exper­i­ence with recon­di­tioned Apple and Microsoft hardware).

Maybe it was a driver issue, but I doubt that. I tested it on two dif­fer­ent hard­ware plat­forms with 3 dif­fer­ent OS ver­sions. Heck, my Gui­tar Hero USB mic was recog­nized by these sys­tems so this ‘quasi-pro’ mic should have been eas­ily. No, it was a bad unit from the fact­ory. Which is where my prob­lem begins.

The Per­cep­tion
In the 21st cen­tury, I have the expect­a­tion that when I buy some­thing it should work. Mod­ern man­u­fac­tur­ing meth­ods and qual­ity assur­ance pro­cesses have kept me safe from many many dud hard­ware items over the years. Until now, it seems.

Sure, some things don’t always work as well as you expect, or need a lot of setup and con­fig­ur­ing to get them to work optim­ally, but I do at least, expect some­thing on the unit to work.

And when it does­n’t at least par­tially work out of the box, it instantly alters my per­cep­tion of the brand. In this case, I was ser­i­ously dis­ap­poin­ted. And, since I pur­posely bought this item for an imme­di­ate use, the brand let me down — Blue’s micro­phone could­n’t ful­fill the brand prom­ise at all.

My expect­a­tion, based on mar­ket­ing mater­i­al and online reviews, led me to believe that this mic was the solu­tion best matched to my need. I needed a good mic. I needed it yes­ter­day. And I needed it to work.

Not only that, but the fail­ure in brand prom­ise forced me to find anoth­er way to solve my imme­di­ate prob­lem — lay­ing down the voice-over track.

Fail­ure in the brand prom­ise actu­ally caused me more work. Now I’m dis­ap­poin­ted and frustrated.

The Trust
So the mic did­n’t work. You may say; Get over it and get on with things. Well, it’s not that simple. You see, the next time I look at a Blue product, any Blue product, I’ll be think­ing ‘Hey, that one mic did­n’t work out of the box, will this thing?’

That one bad exper­i­ence, because of an unful­filled brand prom­ise, has cause me to change my ini­tial pos­i­tion of brand trust — that this item will work out of the box — to one of doubt; this item ‘may’ work out of the box. In my mind, the brand is tainted.

The Recov­ery
But is it per­man­ently tain­ted? Frankly, in my case, I’m not sure what would cause me to recon­sider my think­ing about Blue mics, per­haps a good exper­i­ence with anoth­er mic? I don’t want to spend money and take anoth­er chance.

How ’bout read­ing more pos­it­ive reviews and buzz? Per­haps, but I’d come at them skeptically.

So what’s the answer? How would Blue rebuild my trust in their brand — hav­ing been burned in this instance? I can­’t think of one off the top of my head…can you?



, , , ,



5 responses to “Does one bad product taint the brand?”

  1. Ben Babcock Avatar

    If it’s defect­ive, can­’t you just return or exchange it?

    DOA is a spe­cial case. If it had worked, but the qual­ity had been poor, or if it had worked, but it had summoned a demon that ate your soul, then I’d agree that some scep­ti­cism for the entire brand is healthy. But defect­ive units hap­pen. The qual­ity assur­ance tests can only guar­an­tee that the prob­ab­il­ity of too many defect­ive units in a single batch is low; it can­’t catch every defect­ive unit. If this were a com­mon prob­lem with the Blue brand, then per­haps they need to step up their QA. As you men­tioned, though, the reviews were good. That seems to indic­ate this is an isol­ated incid­ent. You’re just the unlucky guy who got a defect­ive unit.

    1. Brad Grier Avatar

      Yep. Unlucky but I *needed* the mic to work and had that exepect­a­tion. When it did­n’t I became dis­ap­poin­ted — the mic failed me, so the brand failed me. 

      Their products may oth­er­wise be excel­lent, this may be a single event, but when shap­ing brand opin­ion every event or con­sumer touch­point is critical. 

  2. Greg Avatar

    I sus­pect Brad, that you’ve already come to the conclusion.

    No amount of fol­lowup, cus­tom­er ser­vice, or ‘free stuff’ is going to woo back a cus­tom­er who was pre­ven­ted from com­plet­ing a task by put­ting their dol­lars behind a product or brand. 

    Blue is dead to you — for any future purchase.

    Brand new, whiz bang, guar­an­teed, cus­tom­er ser­viced up-the-arse? Does­n’t mat­ter. Last time I bought some­thing from those losers — it was DOA.

    But does this hap­pen to all brands? How many DOA units does DELL ship? How many cars go back in a week for a build issue?

    I think the speed at which we aban­don a brand has a lot to do with both the value, and the worth of the product. Because you are talk­ing about a com­mod­ity item (every­one makes a usb mic these days…) your inher­ent value of the brand is already at a low before you’ve even opened the box, it does­n’t take much see the brand hit rock bottom.

    Brands need equity before pur­chase to sur­vive qual­ity con­trol failures.

    Blue had no equity with their con­sumer, and failed the qc. There­fore — their brand is done with that pur­chaser, and pos­sibly his network.

    1. Brad Grier Avatar

      Well put Greg. If the mic that failed was made by logit­ech then I may have actu­ally just returned it and let it lie. 

      But, since I’d been doing a bit of research and was look­ing for a HQ mic, Blue was at the performance/pricepoint sweetspot. 

      When the mic failed my dis­ap­point­ment was great­er because I had high expect­a­tions for the mic. 

      Dead to me? Not yet. Let’s say te Blue brand is tain­ted though. 

  3. leejohnsonseo (Lee Johnson) Avatar

    Twit­ter Comment

    [link to post] — Does one bad product taint the brand?

    Pos­ted using Chat Catch­er

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.