In March, a retiring executive director at Goldman Sachs gave the ultimate kiss-off to his former employer: a blistering op-ed in the New York Times, decrying a corporate culture within Goldman Sachs that, according to the author, demeans its clients and places its own financial interests above those it purports to serve. The op-ed hit like a bomb in the financial world, and within days had wiped out $2.2 billion of Goldman’s market cap. Many have found the significance of the op-ed to lie in the author’s articulation of a popular rage (to borrow a phrase) against corporate greed. But at its core, the op-ed heard ‘round the world is really a cautionary tale about branding—and the fallout that can occur when it goes wrong.
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