A great example of wikibranding in action. Rats in a fast food joint is nothing new. Rats in a fast food joint on the evening news is nothing new. Consumers taking this story and making their own content on YouTube to spread the word about rats roaming freely in a Taco Bell/KFC is wikibranding in action...much to the brand's detriment.
I was thinking the other day about the DNA of premium brands . One thing is certain -- it's a relative idea. For example, Hyatt is not a premium brand if you're used to staying at a W or a Ritz Carlton. But if your vacations to date have been holed up in a Holiday Inn, then by all means a stay in a Hyatt is a premium experience. Another thing is certain -- a brand is considered premium only when we believe it is worth the price. And that's where we can dig deeper. Why are we willing to pay more for a product when there are others that provide the same service or function at a lesser price? I have spent a good part of my marketing career developing strategies and ideas for a wide range of premium brands, including American Express, Sony, Callaway Golf, Hilton, Jaguar, Land Rover – even the Toyota Prius. Through these experiences I have come to believe that a premium brand is built upon specific tangible and intangible attributes that give it a sense wort
I don't think the moral of this story is to guard and protect your brand. Whether marketers like it or not, people want and are getting more control over the way brands are perceived. I say find ways to share information about your brand. Find the right people (your biggest fans?) to give a peak behind the curtain. Invite participation. But by all means, use some common sense. If you are selling gas guzzlers, tobacco, fatty fast foods... you may not want to invite a mass market of TV viewers to make commercials that will get posted for all the world to see.
Your point reminds me of another good example of WikiBranding. Apple is confident enough on its website to post customers' negative reviews and give them the same weight and exposure as it gives to positive reviews.