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5 Branding Mistakes That Came With A Heavy Cost

Avoid these if you want to become a superbrand.

24/03/2017 3:50 PM IST | Updated 25/03/2017 11:28 AM IST
Pawan Kumar / Reuters

Brand is the soul and voice of a company. Most iconic brands have been built over decades (even Apple as a brand is now over 40 years old). While the internet and mobile age has definitely shortened the process, brand-building is an exercise which involves a huge amount of planning and perseverance. This has often resulted in brands taking risks to shorten the process. However, many companies go overboard, rocking their boat just a bit too much without enough forethought.

There are numerous examples of brands losing out, sometimes due to haste and other times due to lack of research. We will look at five branding gaffes as they offer some insights.

Linking brand extensions to established names

In the 1980s, Colgate thought it was wise to launch a line of frozen dinners called Kitchen Entrees. The logic behind the pairing was that consumers could eat a Colgate meal, and then brush their teeth with Colgate toothpaste.

It is important to do thorough research before launching a new product, expanding an existing range or simply endorsing another brand.

However, the brand name Colgate held such a strong association with toothpaste that the logo, even when put on some of the tastiest meals, brought the taste of a toothpaste in mind. The product range turned out to be a complete failure, and was shortly pulled from the shelves. This obviously hurt brand equity and management confidence. Ultimately, the Colgate team's decision was biased towards brand recall and did not lay enough emphasis on the possible negatives.

Starting a direct war with competitors

Another branding faux pas was when Dettol launched its range of kitchen gels for washing dishes. As a brand, Dettol had long been trusted for its antiseptic liquid solution, soap, hand sanitiser and floor cleaner. But when they introduced their kitchen gel, the brand came across as unprepared. The ads directly compared the Dettol kitchen gel with Vim, which had been ruling households for a long time. While Dettol received an order from the Kolkata high court to stop direct comparison, the competition (Vim) was quick to point out to consumers that they did not need Dettol's antiseptic qualities on their food plate.

Overlooking consumer sentiments

During the Kargil war, the automobile company, General Motors (GM), unintentionally launched a car in a shade of green that had an uncanny resemblance with Pakistan's flag colour. Despite continuously running huge ads showcasing its newest car in a fantastic green, the product never took off, as it could have. The brand lost on sales, simply because they missed considering how the colour resonated with the Indian audience and especially at a time when the country was at war.

Weak auditing

Recently, Facebook faced a lot of flak for incorrect video views measurement. The company counted a video as viewed if it had been seen by a user for more than a mere three seconds. This is a case of an internal operations failure, and audit not being robust and precise enough in a Returns on Investment-dependent environment. Such mistakes lead to a loss of faith among the target audience and dilution in revenues as well as brand trust.

Irresponsible endorsements

Taking a correct branding approach is important even for celebrities, as much as it is for brands. When Pierce Brosnan recently appeared as the face of a pan masala brand, the stint jeopardised his entire image as an actor. Celebrities must not forget that they are a brand themselves, and therefore, they must choose their endorsements carefully.

To sum up it is very essential to understand that there is no fixed set of rules for unsuccessful branding. It is important to do thorough research before launching a new product, expanding an existing range or simply endorsing another brand. Brands must know their audience and their competition well in order to thrive.

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