Branding is about creating a strong, distinct, positive perception of a business in the target audience’s minds and marking itself differently from competitors. 

It holds such significance in building the audiences’ perception that it is paramount to the foundation of any business. Business giants spend millions of dollars annually on branding to keep their brands relevant. 

Branding is an uphill task; you must cut through the crowd to stand out. It is such a gentle beast that you cannot overlook it. But if not done correctly, branding takes the brand into the pit with no way out. 

Keep reading if you don’t want your brand to be the next in the line of branding casualties. 

What happens when branding fails?

Unsuccessful brand
Unsuccessful brand

While there is an immediate internal perception of a brand’s failure. But a brand fails in the eyes of its customers when it

  • becomes outdated,
  • stands irrelevant in the market,
  • and copies successful competitors.

What are the causes of branding failure?

The failure of a brand has no single reason behind it. The first and foremost reason is doing no branding at all. 

There are many others. Let’s understand them one by one with examples. 

1. Lack of authenticity

According to the Edelman Trust Barometer, only 40% of consumers trust companies. And they distrust for all the good reasons. Authenticity is a word that has been so overused that it has lost its meaning. When the brands label them as what they are not, failure is inevitable. 

A perfect example was a 2017 ad by Pepsi when they used a protest to sell their soda drinks. They tried to portray harmony among protestors and the corps when Kendal Jenner handed a soda drink to the corps. 

Although Coca-Cola did a similar campaign in the 70s; this one bagged a lot of criticism. The only reason is the lack of authenticity that the consumers immediately sensed. 

2. Building product, not the brand

Some brands follow the “our product is the best in the market” selling strategy. It is a lethal approach as it is not the better product that always wins in the market. A product with a better marketing strategy is always on the top. 

As you can observe in the case of Fage, that is the only authentic Greek yogurt in the US. It is also ranked as the number one product in Greece, the country of its origin. But Chobani remains an undisputed leader in the US market. The only reason is their branding efforts and rigorous marketing campaigns.

3. Narrow approach

It is a dream for businesses to expand their operations globally. While it is an exciting opportunity, marketing to a different audience without understanding them can be disastrous. For it, companies need a carefully crafted branding strategy.

The successful campaigns, initiatives and slogans in one area might not work the same in a foreign country. 

The famous HBSC bank made this terrible branding mistake when in 2009, it launched its tagline “Assume nothing.” This slogan translated to “Do nothing” in many countries, which brought embarrassment internationally. After spending $10 million, the bank changed its tagline to “The world’s private bank.”

The lesson learned? What it all comes to is paying attention to details. 

4. Occasionally, rebranding goes wrong.

While changing and redesigning with time is necessary, brands must centre it around their core values. 

There are many risks involved in rebranding an established company because there is a huge customer base that might find it unpleasant and difficult to recognize. 

That is what happened when PepsiCo decided to rebrand Tropicana Orange Juice. It was a popular drink in North America. The company changed its packaging, and it didn’t go well with consumers who were confused about the new packaging. The sales plummeted to 20%. PepsiCo reversed its packaging after bearing a loss of $130 million. 

5. Failure to innovate

Another striking cause of failure is a lack of innovation. That is caused by rear-view mirror syndrome. 

Companies, like humans, can get stuck in their comfort zone. When things have been good for them for so long, they wish to hold on to what they think has kept them sailing. 

Nokia was a reputable company, but the tech world changed too quickly and failed to follow. 

  “We didn’t do anything wrong, but somehow, we lost”.

That is what Nokia’s CEO said while announcing the acquisition of Nokia by Microsoft. So, if you fail to change, you will be out of the race. We hope you got it. 

6. Flawed branding strategy

It happens when a brand overlooks its purpose while branding. Every business should keep its core purpose on its branding checklist. 

Colgate is a well-known company for teeth cleaning products. The company’s profits sharply plummeted when it launched a line of frozen food products as a diversification move. 

Not only were the products unrelated, but the company also refused to redesign its brand assets for food entrees. Customers perceived it as untrustworthy and inconsistent.

7. Failure to monitor the brand

Just as there are some Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) for businesses to know how well they perform, there are some metrics also for brands. Monitoring these KPIs can help brands to decide where they stand in the market. 

These metrics include

  • Brand awareness,
  • Perception,
  • Loyalty and engagement,
  • How well it performs compared to its competitors.

The brands that ignore and don’t measure these metrics are the ones with a low chance of climbing up the market ladder. This myopic approach makes them lose touch with customers’ perceptions. They fail to understand what the customers’ needs and demands are. 

The ways to avoid brand failure.

 When your branding efforts fail. You can always take a break to analyze what’s wrong with your strategy and then fix it. 

Here are some ways to fix it. 

  • Keep in touch with the consumers and have their thoughts about your products/services so you can resolve their pain points. 
  • While consistency is the key to success, you cannot ignore what the customers want. Evolve with time and keep their interests above yours while designing the products. 
  •  Don’t confuse the customers while rebranding. Your brand should stick to its primary identity and the values it reflects. 
  • Conduct competitor analysis from time to time. Remember that you don’t learn from them what to do but what not to do. 
  • It should be on top of the rulebook that the CEO and all the staff respect the brand’s values. Be authentic in your services and campaigns. Make a standard ethics guide and stick to it strictly.
  • While expanding your brand operations, keep a close tab on the target audience. If this is a foreign venture, you must monitor the nitty gritty of branding campaigns. 
  • You must invest in branding. Alongside building and improving the products and services, build your brand. Hire a branding agency nearby that will do it for you.

Concluding thoughts

We learn from failures more than we learn from success stories. We hope this insight will help you build better campaigns to avoid failure.  

Have your business made any branding mistakes? How did you recover?

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