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GOING BACK TO THE FIVE AND DIME. PAULA DEEN. PAULA DEEN.

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Going back to the Five and Dime.Paula Deen.Paula Deen.

There have been some pretty good examples of how well known brands can fall from the heights of recognition and value and suddenly plummet into a brand black hole.

If a brand is truly built to create long-term value and withstand tough weather, what happened?

In many cases, brands can be much like a monkey climbing up a tree. The higher it goes, the more of his Big House (gluteus maximus) you see.

Paula Deen

The latest flame out. In no less than one-one half years, the Paula Deen brand went from the heights of celebrity and business value to a punch line on Saturday late night.

An empire of books, Food Network shows, restaurants, branded merchandise and national distribution, licensing deals with biggie retailers, commercial TV gigs and even,drum roll,branded mattresses.

The precipitous descent largely can be attributed to the use of one incendiary word.

Enron

Enron was one of the fastest growing American companies that was not a dot com. Revered and feared in its industry, a darling of Wall Street, Business Week pinups and a model corporate citizen in its headquarters city.

This monkey was very high on the tree when allegations of accounting fraud and tales of Caligulan excesses and debauchery on corporate soirees began to surface. It was almost existential, whatever that means. And this was no ordinary monkey. This was King Kong.

The next thing you saw was an industry titan going down in flames, employees leaving like refugees from a tsunami, perp walks and prison sentences.

I am tempted to write that you can fool all of the people some of the time, but the essence of these falls from lofty heights reveal a basic truth about branding. Good behavior really matters and somewhere along the line, what goes around can indeed come around, particularly if you are a big monkey high up on the tree.