WHAT WE THINK ABOUT WHAT YOU THINK ABOUT.
That's where a brand lives. It does not live in a graphic standard usage manual, in an ad campaign, in a PR plan, or in the hearts of a sales force. Your brand is what the universe of consumers says it is.
I've been talking a lot lately to folks about the issue of controlling your brand. Of course, it's important to be responsible about policing how you use brand expressions (consistency). And it's important to police your competitors (both direct and indirect) to protect your brand from infringement, encroachment, and outright piracy (seems like more and more people are cruising the web and the marketplace for cool ideas, design elements, product concepts, and distinctives to swipe and use-takes us to a who other conversation for another day about the value of ideas). But at the end of the day, if you say your stickers are for car windows, and the marketplace says they're for skate boards, guess what... they're for skate boards. Adjust and proceed.
In The Tipping Point, Malcolm Gladwell talks about how some fashion savvy street kids co-opted the Hush Puppy (traditionally an old man shoe), as an urban fashion statement. Found its way onto Paris runways. Hush Puppy boomed. Nobody at Hush Puppy planned this (or could have). Somebody with the power to say, "from now on these are cool," said it. And it was so.