Monday, December 15, 2014

4 Biggest Brand Train Wrecks


There’s something to be said for reinvention. For keeping it fresh. The challenge, at the same time, is keeping it real – and relevant. Therein lies the rub. And there, it’s easy to lay a big fat egg. To avoid it? Hear your market, listen to your customers and live your values. Major brands, sadly, tend to be some of the best examples of the worst.

Take JC Penney, who in a moment of infinite wisdom decided… no more sales. That’s right, no sales, just Fair and Square Pricing. Each month they would put out a thick, glossy mini catalog of “month long values” showcasing their best deals. Except that’s not what people want from them. As my cousin said, “They’re totally missing it with customers like me – stop with the fancy schmancy catalogs; no wonder they can’t have sales anymore.” Ultimately JC Penney went back to having sales. Or as Kellogg School of Management summarized: They realized the word “sales” drives customers to stores. Listen to your customers.

Even the simplest seeming changes to your look can have huge impacts on customers, as brands like Tropicana found out the hard way. Undoubtedly a marketing guru somewhere decided it was time for a refresh, and out came new orange juice packaging, designed to look like you, only better. Unfortunately, much like celebs who change their look find out, consumer backlash to visual changes can be swift and brutal. Tropicana’s packaging, well, didn’t look like Tropicana, and naysayers pounded away until the classic design came back. Know your customers.
Who wants to Shack up? Radio Shack apparently thought you did, when they attempted to give themselves a forcedly cool nickname: The Shack. Aside from the many social connotations, who ever heard of anything good happening in a shack? And why throw away years of hard earned brand value just to be hip? Risky, especially when even hipsters ridicule you. Understand the value – both real and intangible – of your brand.

And finally, it’s a classic for a reason. Classic Coke. Who remembers that debacle? Coke devotees, that’s who. They’re still bitter over the (hushed whisper) New Coke introduction. Sagging brand value (execs thought) prompted a formula change designed to regain market share. Reaction was so strong (reportedly 1,500 calls a day) that Coke brought the old formula back just 79 days later. Consumers rejoiced – Peter Jennings even interrupted General Hospital to bring them the news. Don’t underestimate your brand.

Pondering a rebrand or refresh? We’ve got the tools to (re)build your brand – just like you, only better. Contact Randy McDaniels at [email protected] or 309-346-2512.