May 11th, 2011
When Big Brands get it Wrong


Everyone remembers the Pepsi Challenge, right? The taste test where blindfolded participants were asked to name their favourite cola, and Pepsi won? It was an episode that made every global brand sit up and pay attention.

In April 1985, Coke launched a new flavour. What’s so bad about that you might ask? Well, not much fundamentally. But their real mistake was scrapping the old one. And this is where brand loyalty really finds its legs. Americans were in uproar. Campaigns were launched and protestors took to the streets.

After some serious head scratching, Coke took a fresh look at the market research, and realised the error of their ways. They’d spent decades building up brand loyalty and associations. By taking away original Coke, they were taking away more than a product — consumers didn’t just like the taste, they’d bought into an ideology. 79 days later the original Coke was back in production.

Coke doesn’t have the monopoly on bad business decisions, however. Check out this article from BBC Two for more examples of when big brands get it wrong: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-13285504 inspired by the new series, ‘Business Nightmares’.

This new foray into corporate clangers might be an education on what not to do in business but equally, it sends a pretty strong message about what to do after you’ve screwed up. Perhaps most significantly, it drives home the real power of branding. As one fan put it: “My oldest daughter is 22. Her first word was Coke. Her second word was Mommy”…

 

Filed under: Brand identity, Branding, Graphic Design
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