When I was heavily involved in photography we would judge people first on the equipment they used: Hasselblad, Nikon, Canon, Leica all meant you were in the know—A pro worth talking to. Yashica, Olympus, Voigtlander, not so much.
I’ve seen the same thing in audio. When two audiophiles first meet what’s likely to be their qualifying question? “What’s your system?” We then know how to catalog each other: serious and invested, or lightly involved and on the fringe.
When I bring the subject of brand stature and bragging rights to the forefront of a conversation people either offer a nervous laugh or a disapproving “tsk, tsk”. Yet, it’s more common than you might think.
It’s human nature that causes us to want to rank people into categories. We want to know where they stand on any given subject so we can know how best to communicate. If someone’s asking for my advice on stereo setup the first thing I need to know is what kind of equipment she has—a simple integrated bookshelf system is going to get different advice from me than separates.
The only real danger I see in brand stature is dealing with preconceptions that aren’t formed as a direct result of one’s experience. If you’ve worked with a company’s products and don’t like them then your opinion has far more validity than someone who has only heard they are not worthy of their time.
I have discovered over the years that setup and knowledge almost always trump brands as a qualifier for success.
I can shoot a great picture with my iPhone, not because of its brand, but because I have developed a photographer’s eye.