The marketing and advertising industry has always been ripe for errors and pop-culture absurdities. However, in this age of the internet and the emergence of social media, there have been significant shifts in how we use the media, connect with one another, and acquire our products. This has created an incredibly rich terrain for branding failure.
Branding is a tricky business. Professional packaging is a focal point of many strong brands. On the one hand, it is such an important part of any brand that it cannot be overlooked. On the other hand, if handled poorly, you may land in a predicament from which you will have to recuperate. Here’s a look at three of the most noteworthy ones with insights for those smart enough to heed them.
1. Coca-Cola’s New Coke
When you think of successful brand stories, Coca-Cola is among the products that come to mind. It is one of the most popular brands worldwide with approximately 1 billion beverages sold daily. However, in 1985, the Coca-Cola Company decided to discontinue its most popular drink in favor of a new formula dubbed New Coke. The New Coke became a huge flop.
The problem was that Coca-Cola had grossly misjudged the value of its original brand. As soon as the decision was made public, a sizable portion of the American populace opted to boycott the new product. New Coke debuted on April 23, 1985, and production of old Coke was halted a few days later. This collaborative decision has subsequently been dubbed “the greatest marketing disaster of all time.” New Coke’s sales were poor, and the fact that the original was no longer accessible sparked widespread indignation. Coca-Cola quickly realized it had no choice but to reintroduce its original name and formula.
Lessons Learned From New Coke
- Conduct thorough market research. Despite countless taste tests on its new formula, Coca-Cola failed to perform appropriate study into the previous brand’s popular image.
- Companies create an emotional commitment to their brand when they generate brand loyalty, which has nothing to do with the product’s quality.
- Don’t try to copy your competitors. Coca-Cola reversed its brand image by establishing New Coke, which overlapped with Pepsi’s. Before and after the New Coke flop, the Coca-Cola company made similar errors, introducing Fruitopia to compete with Snapple and Mr. Pibb to compete with Dr. Pepper.
- Don’t be afraid to do a U-turn. By reversing its decision to discontinue the original Coke, the firm created an even greater link between the product and its users.
2. Tropicana’s Rebranding Fail
Sometimes, rebranding can be an effective marketing strategy. It allows brands to discover new methods to differentiate themselves from their competitors. However, not all rebranding efforts are effective. Many prominent businesses have tried and failed to reinvent themselves in the past.
Perhaps the worst of these was the Tropicana packaging makeover in 2009. Changing a product’s packaging is typically a safe bet, but Tropicana lost $50 million due to this branding mistake. Their blunder has now become a case study for one of the worst rebrandings imaginable.
The company’s signature orange juice had previously featured an orange with a white and orange striped straw. The business chose to take a different approach, displaying the juice itself in a transparent glass, with the opening cap rebuilt to appear and feel like a little orange and the tagline emphasizing the juice’s 100% purity.
Customers thought the new branding appeared inferior (which was probably exacerbated by the fact that the drink’s “pure premium” tagline was now less obvious), most had an emotional attachment to the picture of the straw-pierced orange. Tropicana alienated its customers by changing numerous aspects of the product design at the same time. Sales dropped by 20%, and the corporation quickly reverted to its original artwork.
Lessons From Tropicana’s Repackaging Fail
- Don’t second guess everything, particularly your designs. Consumers choose simplicity and practicality above complex notions and emotional roadblocks in most purchases.
- Don’t try to blend in after you’ve earned a special place in the hearts of your customers by standing out.
- Don’t allow attractive designs to get in the way of what matters: getting the appropriate information to consumers at the right time.
3. Gap’s Logo Redesign Failure
The Gap’s very known logo, which was used from 1990 to 2010, is a basic dark blue square with white serif text spelling out the word “Gap.” A visual rebranding is typically done in response to a substantial shift in the company’s strategy, which necessitates a visible signal for something new within the business. As a result, the virtually total overhaul of the old logo in 2010 came as a surprise to both the customer and professional circles.
The previous Gap logo vanished overnight. On October 6, 2010, a new logo with a much smaller dark blue box and the ‘Gap’ name printed in strong, black Helvetica font was introduced. The cost is projected to be approximately $100 million.
Lessons From Gap’s Redesign Failure
- Never underestimate the emotional connection between your brand and your loyal customers. A brand, complete with its name, tagline, and logo has the ability to give a customer a sense of safety and familiarity when it comes to the products they purchase.
- Random redesigns are not always a good idea.
- Your logo is your visual identity. Simply said, the logo serves as a visual sign of credibility and practically serves as a point of connection between the company and the customer. Changing it can change the customer’s perception of your company.
It’s tough to foresee how a new branding approach will be received. The potential of a packaging design, name, or logo to identify who you are and function as a connecting point between you and your clients is demonstrated in these case studies. Changes to this connecting point must be made in the context of a larger branding and corporate plan. Otherwise, companies risk incurring the displeasure of customers, whose comments may easily tarnish their image.