It has been interesting to watch the developments at Northern Rock over the past few days, and to observe how quickly even the most established brand can be de-stabilised or even wiped out by bad news once it gets into the media.
Just hearing the customers talking on the news last night brought it home that actually most were acting quite irrationally - driven by fear of losing their life savings or their retirement money. And all the assurances in the world - even from the Bank of England and the Government - that their money was safe were having no effect.
It just brought it home to me how true the old marketing adage is that 'Customer perception is the only reality'. And it is a real double edged sword.
If customers believe that they are going to lose their money then that is the only reality that you can deal with. Facts are irrelevant.
On the other hand, if customers believe your product is the best thing they have ever experienced than that is a huge advantage in marketing - quite aside from the fact that there may be many other much better offerings out there.
Hence the power and value in investing your time with your business to build a really great brand.
Yes, it can still be wiped out by a major scandal virtually overnight. But those instances are extremely rare.
It's the one thing that will really help make you competitor proof while you build your business - and goes to demonstrate yet again that your customers really are your biggest marketing department.