Branding Faux Pas You Won’t Make Twice

Posted on December 14, 2013 at 1:32 pm

The importance of a brand can’t be over-stated, it’s the face of an organization and the sole solution to communicate to the broader world exactly who you’re and what you do.

From the colors utilized in your logo to the sort face and your organization name, it all is representative of who you’re and should be carefully considered should you take your organization public.

Some companies have this entire branding thing all the way down to a good art; we are able to see a color, the form of a font or hear a slogan and immediately associate it with a far loved brand. The McDonald’s arches are a wonderful example, as is the Coca Cola font and that ever so vivacious yet classically American shade of red.

You’d think these mega-companies have their branding strategy sussed, yet through the years even these two have made branding faux pas so huge they make it into the faux pas hall of fame.

Think lovemarks, not trademarks

According to Kevin Roberts worldwide chief executive at Saatchi and Saatchi, successful brands ‘don’t have trademarks, they’ve got lovemarks instead’. As a firm strives for brand loyalty, they’re forming an emotional bond with their customer base that frequently has little to do with the standard of the product itself.

Coca Cola

In 1985 Coca Cola tried to rebrand the corporate so as to compete with their sweeter cola drink rivals- Pepsi. The recent taste came under a brand new name, New Coke, which aggrieved the yankee public a lot that sales dropped and mere months later Coca Cola relaunched its original drink under the name ‘Classic Coke’.

Branding faux pas you won’t make twice image by phloxii via Shutterstock

Coca Cola had spent a century branding itself because the real thing, only to suddenly tell people it had got it wrong and this was the recent, sweeter coke. Ironically the stark failure of latest Coke acted in Coca Cola’s favour, with the relaunch reaffirming the public’s loyalty to the all American drink that had once greeted Apollo astronauts on their return to earth with ‘Welcome back to earth, home of Coca-Cola.’

Harley Davidson

A company with an audience, a mystique even, of robust, rugged masculinity that’s so poignant its customers don’t even care that its product doesn’t have the finest engine, shouldn’t go around producing perfume and baby clothes.

Branding faux pas you won’t make twice image by miqu77 via Shutterstock

For a little while in the course of the 1990s Harley Davidson did just that. By over-extending their brand so dramatically, Harley Davidson were alienating their unconditionally loyal customers with products that didn’t match the Harley Davidson mythology of the liberty of the open road that the logo was built on.

Do your research

When expanding into international markets, it sort of feels fairly obvious that words and phrases mean various things worldwide, including slang. An error brands have made again and again is not really doing sufficient linguistic research into the rustic they may be about to introduce their product to. This could include chatting with a local speaker.

Branding faux pas you won’t make twice image by Maksim Kabakou via Shutterstock

In the 1980s a successful Finnish windshield washing company took their product to the united states in an try and expand their market. Yet their innocently named cleaning agent, Super Piss, came a-cropper when it was discovered that the latter a part of the name had an additional meaning in American-English.

While in Finland pissapoika refers back to the jets where the windshield fluid comes from, it meant something far more crass to an amused American market.

Similarly when the dairy industry mastermind behind the famous slogan ‘Got Milk’ was taken to Spain, they neglected to translate the phrase for his or her new customers who read the slogan as, ‘Are You Lactating?’.

Expensive mistakes

We all make mistakes, and as we’ve already seen even huge established brands may have costly lapses in judgement after they run within the wrong direction with a product. Sometimes companies or ideas fail because their product is outdated, or on the subject of Harley Davidson they’d simply ventured into unsuitable territory for his or her brand.

However, sometimes a branding faux pas can all be attributed to a foul idea, and bad market research. As some companies have learnt the hard (and really expensive) way, you can’t force a customer to purchase a product they don’t want.

Sony and Godzilla = $60million

In 1998 the movie world learned the ability the web has over the cinema-going public, with films like Godzilla and the large amount of cash spent on its campaign (which included recruiting P Diddy to rap through one of the expensive promo videos of all time), proved ever more pointless with the discharge of the Blair Witch Project. The budget film reached unexpected levels of success with a fair lower budget campaign.

Each of those events didn’t play out as Sony had intended; rather they were aiming for a celeb Wars mega-franchise that each one started with big budget effects within the movie and was supported by an equally large marketing budget.

Unfortunately for Sony, the entire project was dramatically over-hyped with little deal with the top product, which was greeted with resounding disappointment, and overall negativity.

RJ Renolds = $325 million creating smokeless cigarettes

Branded as ‘Premier’ cigarettes and launched in 1988, shortly after passive smoking was officially recognised as a danger to health. The U.S. company spent $325 million trialling smokeless cigarettes; the decision –

‘Inhaling Premier required vacuum powered lungs, lighting it virtually required a blowtorch, and if successfully lit with a match, the sulphur reaction produced a smell and a flavour that left users retching.’- Reporter Magazine

In 1996 the corporate relaunched the product using coal to heat the tobacco, and thus creating less smoke; this failed again despite the hot name ‘Eclipse’.

Smokeless cigarettes appealed to those that don’t just like the smell of cigarettes; otherwise called non-smokers who don’t are inclined to buy cigarettes.

Branding faux pas you won’t make twice image by Maksim Kabakou via Shutterstock

Lessons all brands should keep in mind of

Markets are in a relentless state of flux, particularly those heavily reliant on fashion trends and technology.

The more successful a brand becomes the more it pigeon holes itself inside the one market; McDonald’s, Coca Cola and Harley Davidson learnt this the hard way. It also makes it difficult for brands to evolve because the overall market changes and advances, it is very important innovate but not over-extend your brand, to anticipate trends but to not over-reach.

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