Branding Disasters and What You Can Learn From Them

Branding takes finesse. It takes a fine eye, an understanding of the market and a savvy account of what consumers really want. You would think well-established companies had these bases covered…but the sad truth is that everyone has a blind spot.

If there’s one thing you need to learn from other businesses, it’s what NOT to do. You’ll find you learn a lot more from someone’s branding disasters than their branding successes.

Gap’s Major Mistake

One thing that’s important to keep in mind is that iconic logos probably shouldn’t be altered or tampered with. In the case of fledgling businesses, pick a logo that works and stick with it.

Gap did exactly the opposite of that in 2010. Despite being a company with a logo that’s iconic to the brand, Gap decided that some change was necessary moving into the new decade. They swapped their white-text-on-blue-square logo for black text on a white background with a small blue box. The new look was dated and out of sync with their image. In the end, the disaster cost them big bucks.

Bust Buy

Another company with an iconic logo, Best Buy, tried to change their image up in 2008. You may not remember the new look simply because it lasted for only a few weeks. Switching from their black text/yellow price tag look to a more minimalist design didn’t actually fare well for the company. The new design was clunky and didn’t utilize space well.

The lesson to learn here is always be aware of your design skills. If you aren’t capable of designing a winning logo, look elsewhere and don’t be ashamed. If even companies like Best Buy can have graphic design misses, you’re allowed to have a few too.

I’m Not Even Sure

Intrigued by that subheading? You might be even more intrigued by the actual logo itself. Without reading the text, what kind of company do you think would inspire this kind of squid-like disaster?

The reality is that Cottbus is a German city. The city, looking to rebrand themselves, created a contest that awarded 800 euros to the winner. This was the design that was selected, though the city soon realized their mistake. They’ve since rebranded after Internet users turned their new logo into the newest meme. What can you learn from this? It’s simple: don’t make obviously bad decisions.

If it Ain’t Coke…

…don’t fix it. However, Coca Cola has attempted to do this multiple times. While their can design changes have been welcomed more often than not in recent years, the iconic beverage company has tried over and over again to sell a new formula of their drink.

If there’s one thing Coca Cola doesn’t need to adjust when it comes to branding, it’s their product. They have a winning recipe, but of course any brand as old as theirs will want to switch things up now and again. Your takeaway is this: know what should change and what should stay the same.

Branding Mistakes You Might be Making Right Now

brandmistakes Not every branding idea you come up with is going to be a winner – and that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Branding swings and misses can teach you very valuable business lessons, and that’s something you should take away from all of your mistakes. Whether your sales are slowing down or you royally flub up a marketing opportunity, take the positive out of the negative: at least now you know what not to do.

That being said, this is only completely true if you know what you’ve done wrong. For instance, your sales numbers are indeed going down – but why? Without knowing this critical component of the problem, you’re still stuck at square one. This is why identifying these common yet devastating branding mistakes is crucial to your overall success in marketing.

Your brand is purposeless.

A sloppy brand indicates a sloppy business. While many assume that marketing is the cornerstone of every business, it’s actually the brand image – this image should be present in all aspects of the business, from every piece of content tweeted to every mock advertising graphic made in Photoshop.

Because of this, a brand is supposed to have purpose and be easily definable. If you can’t easily come up with a two-to-three sentence long statement about your business’ brand identity, you’re doing it really, really wrong.

There’s no set voice to your brand.

Think about your favorite character on television or from a film. You can identify them by their voice – which is to say, both how they speak and the things they say. Now imagine a completely different voice coming out of their mouth. It’s kind of jarring, isn’t it?

Consumers identify businesses in a very similar way, which is based on how they sound and the way they say what they’re trying to convey. This isn’t necessarily about getting the same voice actor for every commercial either – do you think the same voices have been featured in every Coca Cola add for the past 50 years? No – but the brand image has a certain style to it that’s consistent. That’s the voice.

All of your content and marketing should carry this voice throughout. Without a consistent brand voice, your ship is sunk.

You aren’t investing capital.

New entrepreneurs with new businesses are often squeamish about spending money – and this isn’t necessarily a bad thing in and of itself. It’s good to be conscious of your budget, but remember the old adage? You have to spend money to make money? Sometimes it’s true.

While it might be a lot cheaper to come up with your branding ideas in your garage over a couple beverages with friends, let’s be real – the best branding ideas likely aren’t just going to fall out of the sky and onto the hood of your car or kitchen counter. Spending money on expert branding advice can be critical to establishing your brand as a whole.

It’s unnecessary to pour your life’s savings into branding, but consider this – you get what you pay for, so why not spring for a branding consultant who’s worth the money?

Question: Is it Really Important to Develop a Lifestyle Brand?

Is it Really Important to Develop a Lifestyle Brand
What exactly is a lifestyle brand? On one hand, a lifestyle brand is a brand identity that focuses on the ideas, rituals, interests and attitudes of a particular culture or hobby, thus the term lifestyle applies. Lifestyle brands market and sell products and services to consumers that focus their lives and interests around a certain topic or activity.

On the other, any brand can market their advertising campaigns around a lifestyle if they choose to do so. Any product can be targeted toward lifestyle-focused consumers, and some products and services can be marketed to many different consumers with many different lifestyles.

One of the benefits of branding focusing on a lifestyle is that the importance and necessity of the product itself is already described and associated with something important in the life of the consumer. Lifestyle-infused products can sometimes market themselves – marketing teams just need to add a selling point and they’re good to go.

But the importance truly lies in brand consistency – a brand based around a lifestyle is one that has to stay consistent with that lifestyle and cater to the needs of its consumer. Developing a lifestyle brand, no matter what that lifestyle may be referring to, is an important step in the branding process, namely for three important reasons:

  1. Lifestyle, Consistency, Loyalty

Many consumers who use lifestyle brand products commit to one company or one set of products that suit their needs best. Lifestyle branding and marketing is largely centered on convenience and effectiveness – for instance, consider the world of athletics apparel. Active women usually purchase active wear from one company that they trust based on experience. If one pair of jogging pants works very well for them from one particular company, they’re more likely to buy that matching jogging jacket and those athletics shoes made by the same brand.

This can also be applied to the branding itself. When a brand is focused on a lifestyle and consistently shows consumers that it understands that lifestyle, it’s more likely to be successful.

  1. Lifestyle Branding is Consumer Focused

It’s been mentioned before, but branding focused on a lifestyle puts the consumer in the spotlight. Lifestyle brands are there to help consumers make their life easier or more valuable. Revisit the active wear example. An athletic clothing line can be branded in a way that appeals to a consumer that wants to improve their exercising and athletic activities while looking fashionable.

This branding technique appeals to a consumers need for value. Lifestyle branding puts the consumer first and shows them time and time again that they’re there to help.

  1. Lifestyle Brands Show Off Experience

There’s also a certain level of expertise to be shown from lifestyle branding. Marketing lifestyle and lifestyle-based products and services is something that requires a specific focus – there’s no room for general marketing here. Lifestyle brands and marketing strategies hone in on a specific group of people and shows them that they understand the lifestyle AND how to improve it.

This requires intimate knowledge of the purpose and lifestyle being targeting, and this kind of understanding and expertise is something that consumers trust. Lifestyle branding allows businesses the opportunity to connect with consumers in a way that shows them they know what they’re doing and they’re willing to share that information wealth with them.

Lifestyle-focused brand development is something that should be considered carefully, but it’s no less important than other branding and marketing forms. In fact, your lifestyle branding can be your ticket to success – when your consumer trusts your brand, you both win in the end.