Examples of Bad Branding (and What We Can Learn From Them)

Your branding is what distinguishes your business from competitors and helps people recognize you in the marketplace — and it’s essential for your success. In order for your branding to be effective, you need to be familiar with the components of bad branding. Whether branding a new company or rebranding an existing company, learning from others’ mistakes yields valuable lessons. Keep reading for examples of branding gone wrong, how to avoid rebranding fails, and what to do instead to create successful branding. 

What Constitutes Bad Branding?

Lousy branding is any branding that attracts the wrong kind of attention. This could look take the form of carelessly designed logos, unintentionally hidden meanings in an advertisement, or any other oversight that is obvious after the fact.

In many cases, bad branding can be worse than no branding. Without it, customers may never become aware of your brand. With bad branding, you could be sending the wrong messages and inadvertently turning potential customers in your competitors’ direction.

The Consequences of a Poorly Maintained Brand

A poorly maintained brand has consequences. Perhaps the worst is the possibility of losing your core customer base. If your brand upkeep efforts are lazy or careless, you’ll likely lose touch with customers and see a downtick in sales, clients, and enthusiasm for new products and services. After that, if you can’t pull it back up, you could lose your entire company. Fortunately, it’s not too late to salvage a poorly maintained if you’ve been slacking as a company. We’ve listed some mistakes you can avoid and ideas you can follow through with below to successfully brand your company.

Common Branding Mistakes

With access to the internet and information about branding gone wrong, it’s never been easier to learn about common branding mistakes and how to avoid them. We’ve identified some of the most common mistakes and why these moves could hurt your business.

Cold Email Campaigns

Cold email campaigns are ones that target people who aren’t familiar with your brand. While these campaigns can be beneficial for exposing your brand to a new customer base, don’t make the mistake of trying to sell to them before you have established a relationship. If you do, you could be wasting your email marketing budget and end up in a spam folder.

Ignoring SEO

For many consumers, Google is the end-all-be-all. You need to know how to play the Google game to stay relevant — and to do that, you need to take advantage of SEO. Research relevant keywords and the way your customer base is searching for them so that you can develop a strategy that will capitalize on these terms.

Poor Web Design

Your digital presence needs to be strong. Web design can help you reach further than you probably could otherwise; developing an impactful logo, a memorable color scheme, and an easily navigable website can help you stand out in customers’ minds and increase your chances of conversion. However, poor design choices can have the opposite effect and reflect poorly on your brand. If a customer has a negative experience on your website, they’re unlikely to try again, so you’ll lose customers.

Inconsistency

Inconsistent branding is a quick way to kill your brand recognition. It not only makes it difficult for people to identify your business from platform to platform, but it also makes your audience think you don’t know what you’re doing or who you are. This may stir up distrust in your customers and give your company a bad reputation. You need to have a strong brand style guide and know what your company stands for so your marketing can be consistent wherever your brand appears. 

Audience Disconnect

If you don’t research the target audience you’re trying to reach, you won’t know how to connect with them. Being inclusive and accessible in your designs makes it easier to form connections and win over a wide range of people.

Insincerity

Your customers can spot inauthenticity from a mile away. Even if you get away with ‘faking it’ for a while, there’s always a chance that your audience will find you out, and then you risk losing them. Be true to your brand and trust that your ideal customers will find you. 

Being Generic

It’s really easy to produce generic content — anyone can do that. Your audience wants to see what your brand is all about. Check your logo, images, brand name, and marketing materials for anything that isn’t representative of your business or unique to your company. Your customers are less likely to care about or even remember a generic brand that makes no effort to be different from everyone else.

Bad Branding Examples

There are plenty of companies and products out there that need rebranding. While the brands below might not be the worst examples, they could definitely benefit from some professional help. Whether it’s a company that hasn’t changed with the times or a brand that has made oversights or rebranding mistakes, their brands have a lesson to offer. Read about these companies below that could benefit from a rebrand or that have failed in their rebranding to learn what to avoid in your efforts. 

Avon

Avon used to be the epitome of convenience with their door-to-door cosmetics that gave homemakers a chance to earn extra money. But now we have online shopping, which has become more convenient than door-to-door sales. In 2014, Avon had a series of bribery suits that caused its wholesome facade to fade. This former trendsetter could probably benefit from a rebrand. 

Johnson & Johnson

Johnson & Johnson has had a scandal problem in the last few years. They had to recall thousands of bottles of baby powder because of traces of asbestos. Beyond that, the company has known about the asbestos problem for at least 50 years. Their family company image was hit hard, and a rebrand could help them get ahead of the scandal once the suits have been settled. 

Pepsi

Pepsi hasn’t positively changed its image in years. Their logo isn’t relevant to their product, and customers are noticing. They tried to rebrand in 2014 with a new logo, but it was considered a failure after the negative criticism they received. This attempt exemplifies how essential it is to get feedback from long-time customers when you decide to rebrand.

Weight Watchers

Weight Watchers is a company known for wellness around the world. When the company changed its name after 55 years, its customer base was confused. Changing the name to WW left people unsure about what they were advertising. The name change is considered a rebrand misstep, even though the company decided to keep the new name.

Yahoo!

In 2013, Yahoo! developed a marketing campaign around rebranding its logo. It spend a month building up to its new logo, but in the end, it didn’t up being much different from the original one. This left the customer base pretty disappointed. When rebranding, try not to hype up your audience if your changes will be indistinguishable from your original branding. If there’s going to be a significant buildup, your audience will expect a reveal to match the publicity. 

Why Rebrand?

Before you jump into a rebranding project, it’s important to figure out a timeline first. There’s a right and a wrong time for a rebrand, and taking that leap is a move that should be well researched and understood in advance.

Your “why” is the most critical part of a rebrand; if you haven’t yet developed an answer that justifies the time and expense of such an undertaking, take a little time to think it out. We have some suggestions on why you might want to reposition your business and rebrand. 

Your Mission Has Changed

When you change the way you do business, it changes your brand. If your brand and mission are misaligned, that’s a great reason to reposition yourself accordingly. A well-strategized rebrand will bring your business back in line with your mission. 

You Have a New Product

Introducing a new product or service may present a good opportunity for a rebrand. Adding a new product line or service could justify a rebrand to introduce the new offering and show how it relates to your existing brand.

Bad Reputation

If your brand has recently earned a negative reputation, a rebrand can help eliminate the bad associations and give you a fresh start if you give it time and thought. Whether you’ve experienced a scandal or been called out for your business practices, you can come back from it — as long as you do it properly.

Your Industry or Customer Base Has Changed

Most industries are continuously evolving in this technological age. If you notice that the new generation of consumers isn’t drawn to your brand, a rebrand could be just the ticket to getting new business and putting your company in front of fresh eyes. 

You’re Getting Outperformed

Sometimes, a rebrand may be needed simply because you’re not competitive in your industry, and your rivals are getting the better of you. That can happen even to the largest and best companies, but you can fix it. A rebrand will help your company to stand out from the crowd.

How to Avoid Rebranding Failures

Even worse than not rebranding when necessary is suffering from rebranding failures. Here are some suggestions for avoiding the common pitfalls and mistakes that are commonly encountered when creating or rebranding a company.

The Right Designer

You need a talented designer to make your rebrand come to life. They can use their expertise to make your brand exceptionally appealing, and they’ll be able to help you avoid design problems. It will serve you both better if you give them background information and broad ideas instead of specifics that will pin them down creatively.

Get Your Whole Staff Involved

You’re missing out on critical opportunities if you only involve creative teams in your rebrand. People from other departments offer insights from a different perspective and might help you catch mistakes or provide meaningful feedback.

Consider Your Customer

When it comes to rebranding, it’s vital to consider your customers’ perspectives. It’s easy to find out what they want by sending out a survey to your customer base; most people will jump at the opportunity to influence their favorite brands. Try to be as inclusive as possible when getting feedback, or you’ll lose out on opportunities to hear from broader audiences.

Think Big

Rebranding your company is an investment. You want to ensure that it can withstand the test of time in your industry. Use abstract imagery and a broad purpose statement rather than committing to a design that will date your company in a year or two. It’s also important to do your research so that you can expand globally in the future if that’s your hope.

Look at Your History

It can be helpful to look at your history so you can plan your future. Knowing the history of your company will help you avoid discarded branding and keep you from repeating rebranding failures. Instead, you’ll be able to concentrate your efforts on new, quality work instead of ideas that have already been rejected.

Consider the Competition

One of the most important things to consider when rebranding is your competition. You don’t want your rebranded company to look too much like a competitor’s brand. This can make your marketing assets look generic, which you don’t want, or it can lead to trademark violations and other legal issues. Your company should stand out from the competition and draw in customers with its own flair.

Think About Context

Think about your brand in every context; make sure that any acronyms don’t spell out something inappropriate and that there aren’t any unfortunate rhymes or unintentional messages. Your logo should avoid unwanted images in the positive and negative space and from any direction you look at it. Look up words related to your brand in different languages and ensure there aren’t any issues.

You also need to ensure your brand doesn’t touch on social or historical issues. To prevent that, show your brand to people from different generations and cultures. Do your research before you release your new brand.

How Avalaunch Can Help With a Successful Rebrand

If you’re looking to rebrand but are unsure where to start, our expert marketers can help. Avalaunch Media has over a decade of experience assisting companies with their brands and successfully helping them rebrand when they need to. We’ll help you handle everything from brand messaging and content to PR and web development. 

Check out our website to learn about our services and how we can help you elevate your business. If you’re ready to launch, contact us and let us do what we do best. 

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