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The Lessons We Can Learn From Major Branding Mistakes

Branding is the foundation of nearly every successful business, as it is not only about how a company presents itself to the wider world but also how they express those core beliefs and values that drive them to provide the products and services they do.

A successful branding exercise solidifies and forms the basis of sales and marketing efforts, with the latter focusing on spreading the values and iconography of a brand.

However, whilst there are some excellent examples of brand establishment, evolution, and revolution, there are a few common pitfalls that even the most successful companies can fall into.

Here are some examples of these and what other brands can learn from them.

  1. Acclaim Critically Injures Itself With Edge

Edgy branding and marketing campaigns have an element of danger to them as they push at the boundaries and borders of acceptable standards of taste and decency.

In a lot of cases, this works, especially when the taboos being broken are ones that should not have existed, to begin with. However, there is a risk to relying on edgy marketing, as when it can go wrong it can be a disaster.

Acclaim Entertainment was one of the biggest video game publishers of the 1990s and had built up a reputation for courting controversy with its marketing.

Whilst Mortal Monday was a phenomenal success and helped to sell an inherently controversial fighting game, other branding exercises were far less successful.

Acclaim promised £6000 to any parents who named their baby Turok to promote their series of Dinosaur-themes first-person shooters, they attempted to buy advertising space on real tombstones for the voodoo-themed Shadow Man, and offered to repay speeding tickets to any driver who was caught trying to buy Burnout 2.

All of these were controversial and gained attention, but did not help sales, but the worst example was the release of BMX XXX. Originally a BMX simulator with the license of the late Dave Mirra, it was changed at the last minute to incorporate more sexual content.

This led to Mr Mirra suing to distance his name from the controversial game and the company declaring bankruptcy two years later.

  1. Coca-Cola Discards Nearly A Century Of Tradition, Regrets It

Long-running brands in competitive market sectors often face a dilemma when it comes to their heritage. Should they lean into their tradition and the limitations that come with a long-standing perception, or make major changes to chase a new audience?

Coca-Cola decided to opt for the latter in 1985, taking a huge gamble by reformulating and rebranding a drink that had been so consistent in its formulation that it was primarily sold as “the real thing.”

However, with increasing competition in the younger sector and older drinkers switching to Diet Coke, the company pushed forward with this plan, and 77 days later completely reversed it.

What Coca-Cola had failed to realise is that whilst they were selling a soft drink, they were also selling the brand and its values, and a huge and widely publicised rebrand was seen as a betrayal of their most loyal customers.

Thankfully, their re-rebrand worked out exceptionally well for them, primarily by leaning back on tradition.


For more information and advice from a branding agency in Berkshire, get in touch today.

To find out how Crisp can help you grow your digital revenue, please Contact Us or take our Digital Scorecard to find out how you can improve today.

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