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How Big Brands Fail with a Wrong Strategy

You will find a lot of tips and tricks on how to succeed. Some are better put together than others and some have proof that they work.

We’re not here to discuss these things because that’s the goal of most businesses: to succeed. This article begs to look at the other side of the coin.

There are companies, big brands even, in their desire to succeed, try different things or strategies, and end up opposite of where they really want to go. And while that may be devastating to them, there are implications in what happened to them that we can derive some wisdom and learning from.

That is, not just what to avoid but also something we can when strategizing for our brands.

Here are examples of big strategy flops from big brands and what we can learn from them.

Remarketing Gone Bad

It’s natural for brands that see slow market share decline to do something. But people love big brands so much that they are not willing to readily accept the changes they make. People take their brands seriously and Coca Cola learned this the hard way.

On April 23, 1985, after more than a decade of steady decline, they wanted to improve the experience of their customers by improving the formula. That’s not a bad goal, right?

The test group even approved of the new formula. It even got a lot of publicity on the news.

But people thought otherwise. The change was met “consumer angst the likes of which no business has ever seen”.

By June of the same year, the company was receiving triple the number of calls from customers complaining about the new taste and they were holding every employee of the company personally accountable.

There were even protest groups and news of hoarding of hundreds of bottles of the original formula.

Coke eventually reverted to the old formula. But the damage has been done. Pepsi banked on this for their ads that year.

Diversification of Offerings

Adding new product offerings can help speed up your business growth because there will be more means of sales and income. But it has to come with a thorough understanding of your brand position and how people perceive you.

We know Colgate to be the brand to give us minty-fresh breath. Their products are meant to provide you with a clean mouth. And when you think about toothpaste, people will say Colgate.

But once upon a time in 1982, they launched Colgate Kitchen Entrees.

It was hard to believe that a hygiene company would diversify to frozen food. They thought that with their successful toothpaste brand, they can leverage that for food products.

There’s no question about it, their products were not received well by the people at that time. Perhaps it will not be received well today. Consumers back then could not see the connection between the products.

Trying to Stick to Tradition

This may be a good strategy if your audience loves nostalgia and your brand is all about reliving the past. It will work well if you have a brand that’s established through a good strategy.

That being said, some companies who tried to stick to their cultural tradition met an untimely demise when new competitors arose. A prime example of this is Nokia.

It used to be the top mobile phone brand in the late ’90s and even early 2000s. But it gradually lost its position when the iPhone was launched in 2007.

They didn’t adopt change and kept on producing the phones they knew. Even with solid hardware, people sought software. Nokia kept the old formula, but people have moved on.

Brand Deception

As the world and our social consciousness enters a stage of increased sensitivity towards race, gender, and other values of importance, consumers tend to hold brands to a higher regard, assuming that they would take a high road on various social issues. 

No one is exempt from this, not even the biggest brands. In fact, they’re the ones that are immediately put in the limelight, especially when it comes to deception. 

Case in point: Purdue Pharma was able to rack up a 13 billion dollar fortune thanks to OxyContin, a prescription painkiller. However, Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healy accuses the OxyContin maker of deceiving patients and doctors about the risks of opioidsThis is because the makers were allegedly long aware of the drug’s dangers, but pushed for more sales anyway. 

Needless to say, this kind of deception hurt the company badly, and in mid-September of 2019, Purdue filed for bankruptcy. 

Brand Fatigue

Too much of a good thing can be a bad thing. 

Brand fatigue is when your customers or audiences hear too much from you, that instead of being convinced to patronize your products, they downright ignore them. 

As you can imagine, this can be a massive waste of time and resources. While yes, you may be reaching your audience, your campaigns might not be getting the traction that your business needs. 

Another definition of brand fatigue is that YOU YOURSELF become tired of YOUR OWN BRAND. 

Because of this, a business may prematurely push to change branding before even fulfilling its initial marketing push or campaign. 

On January 2009, Tropicana decided to change their packaging — when in fact it wasn’t really needed. 

This change led to a 20% decrease in sales, because the new packaging seemed to have made their customers confused. 

What did Tropicana do? They went back to their old packaging.  

While a refresh and a rebranding strategy may be necessary down the road, you should always check the reason WHY you want to do it. 

Sometimes, it may do more harm than good. 

The definition of what a brand is not simple. It is not merely a logo or a certain way of designing something. People can feel a sense of connection to it and if marketers are not careful, even the noblest strategy can lead to devastating results.

What you can do is to pay careful attention to what your brand makes people feel. After all, brand marketing is a marathon. The marketer who endures till the end and makes smart decisions will definitely win the race.

Conclusion

The definition of what a brand is not simple. It is not merely a logo or a certain way of designing something. People can feel a sense of connection to it and if marketers are not careful, even the noblest strategy can lead to devastating results.

What you can do is to pay careful attention to what your brand makes people feel. After all, brand marketing is a marathon. The marketer who endures till the end and makes smart decisions will definitely win the race.

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