Last Updated 5 months by Emily Standley-Allard

Any company must prioritize branding as it shapes the audience’s perception of the enterprise. While there are many examples of successful brands, there are also many instances of disastrous brands. This article will examine a few well-known brand blunders and the insightful lessons they may teach companies trying to figure out the complicated world of branding.

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Inadequate Market Research

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A typical mistake made in branding is not carrying out adequate market research. A well-known example of how Coca-Cola’s choice to repackage its flagship product without realizing how deeply consumers connected to the original flavor resulted in a significant reaction is the New Coke scandal of 1985.

It is very evident what may be gained from this well-known error: thorough market research is a must.

It is not only advantageous but also crucial to comprehend customer preferences, moods, and cultural quirks in order to prevent alienating the target market and endangering brand loyalty.

Ignoring Cultural Sensitivities

When it comes to global expansion, cultural sensitivities must be taken into consideration.

PepsiCo encountered a lot of criticism when it introduced the “Bring Out the Bold” promotion for Mountain Dew in the United States due to a television commercial that many saw as being racially offensive.

The takeaway from this is very evident: having a thorough awareness of cultural settings is not just beneficial but also essential.

When venturing into new markets, brands need to exercise caution to prevent unintentionally reinforcing preconceptions or creating offense.

Disregarding cultural sensitivity can have dire repercussions, damaging a company’s image and undermining customer confidence.

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Failing to Evolve

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The story of Blockbuster Video, which failed to change with the times in response to shifting customer preferences and the emergence of digital streaming, serves as a warning.

The brand’s downfall was eventually caused by its unwillingness to adopt internet streaming and its persistent dependence on the conventional brick-and-mortar business model.

Not only is the lesson clear, but it’s also urgent: in order for brands to remain relevant in a business environment that is changing quickly, they need to be flexible, adaptive, and open to change.

A once-dominant brand may swiftly become outdated if it fails to develop, underscoring the necessity of ongoing innovation and strategy evolution.

Poor Crisis Management

A brand’s reputation over time can be determined by how it responds to crises. In 2017, United Airlines had to learn this lesson the hard way after a video showing a passenger being ejected from an overwhelmed flight went viral.

The airline’s original tone-deaf reaction drew criticism, further harming the airline’s reputation.

There is no doubt what may be inferred from this well-publicized incident: During a crisis, prompt, sympathetic, and open communication is not just vital but essential.

To restore confidence and protect their image, brands need to put a high priority on damage control, aggressively respond to consumer complaints and show that they are really committed to fixing problems.

Overextending Brand Extension

When used carefully, brand expansion may be a very effective tactic, but if used excessively, it can backfire.

Take Colgate’s attempt to get into the frozen food industry with Colgate Kitchen Entrees, for example.

A well-known toothpaste brand was quickly forced to remove its frozen meal offering due to consumer confusion.

The clear takeaway from this error is that brand expansion needs to be carefully planned and carried out in a way that complements a company’s core competencies and values.

Excessive expansion into unconnected areas can weaken a brand’s identity, perplex customers, and jeopardize the trust and reliability that have been developed over time.

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Insensitive Marketing Campaigns

To prevent unintentionally offending people, brands need to be careful while developing marketing strategies.

Dove came under fire for a 2017 commercial that was thought to be racially offensive, showing how even well-known companies can make mistakes.

This clearly teaches brands that they need to thoroughly evaluate and test their advertisements to make sure they are inclusive and culturally aware.

When making decisions, having a diverse range of viewpoints may be extremely important for seeing possible problems before a campaign launches.

Insensitive marketing initiatives can have serious negative effects on society and the economy, in addition to damaging a brand’s reputation.


Businesses may learn a great deal from their failed brands. Every mistake that is made may be used to inform future branding initiatives, whether it is due to insufficient market research, cultural apathy, a failure to adapt, bad crisis management, excessive brand expansion, insensitive advertising efforts, or a failure to manage internet reputation.

Businesses may succeed in navigating the ever-changing world of branding by looking back on these mistakes and using the lessons they’ve learned.


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