BusinessWeek points out that Apple’s reputation might be slightly bruised. Apparently the much touted University of Michigan Customer Satisfaction study recently reported that Apple slipped a few points from last year’s survey, its first decline since 2001. Mind you, Apple scores at the top of its industry. One of the reasons given is that Apple has broadened its customer use from die-hard advocates to mainstream users who are less fanatical and less invested in the brand. Some of the research we did at Weber Shandwick on Advocacy indicates that advocates are more willing to give brands more time to repair their image and manage themselves through crises than non-advocates. Have to agree with BusinessWeek writers that “the company has become a case study in the challenges of taking a cherished brand with a devoted (some would say cult) following into the mainstream.” When your core selling proposition expands beyond your biggest fans or highly intense advocates, companies must take precautions to manage their reputations and step gingerly.