Whilst discussing Kevin Roberts' idea from the Future Marketing Summit that brands 'are now owned by the consumer'; several of us (myself, Rob Campbell etc) have concurred that was frankly rubbish, brands have always been owned by the consumer.
I do feel however that what has changed is that the customer now controls the brand, as well as owning it. Where as before the customer protested and the brand took notice (or ignored it); now the consumer has the power to change other people's opinions about it before you can even do anything about it.
I did come up with an analogy I like though:
The situation for brands is rather like that of an early 20th century travelling salesman. Whereas before he could pack up and move town; and change his sales technique before he arrived at the next place... now the people already know what he is selling and whether they are interested before he has even got on his horse.