Well, thank God. Arizona Governor Jan Brewer vetoed a bill that would have allowed businesses the right to refuse services to anyone based on religious grounds – which was seen as a direct assault against the gay and lesbian community.
The law was intended to protect freedom of religion but the ensuing firestorm over basic human rights even reached into the Republican Party, as both John McCain (a Senator from Arizona) and Mitt Romney encouraged Brewer to veto the bill.
From a brand perspective, this was the right move because Arizona is gaining a reputation it doesn’t really want: That of a state that impinges on human rights.
A few years ago, this was the state that voted not to give amnesty to illegal immigrants nor provide any public benefits to them. A 2008 law banned same-sex marriage.
I’m not getting political here. You can agree or disagree with those actions as you like. What interests me is that the brand of Arizona, which touts the Grand Canyon, outdoor adventure and, currently, spring training, is becoming a reflection of something else.
It is important that a brand that put a stake in the ground and mean something, of course. But, like any brand, you must consider whether it is grows your bottom line. The only reason to brand (or rebrand) is to increase your business. Otherwise, it’s a worthless exercise. In this case, even many business leaders in Arizona were pushing Brewer to veto the bill.
The brand of Arizona that it once held – free open spaces, with a care-free, almost 60s vibe – is falling to a brand of retirees and out modeled thinking.
If you believe Brewer should not have vetoed the bill, you are probably choosing based on a belief – I get that. (And there’s another argument for letting the bill pass. The free market may decide, meaning businesses that won’t serve based on religious views could ultimately fold.)
But the brand of Arizona just dodged a major bullet.