Five Ways to Avoid Brand Failure
Five Ways to Avoid Brand Failure
By Caitlin Fitzgerald
Success and humanity have two things in common: they're both fickle. A successful company is only as successful as its customers' happiness. And no one forgets when a company fails or loses its consumers' trust. The past is littered with companies who failed due to a lack of research/trust, or a huge ego. Knowing your consumers and telling the truth are some of the simpler ways to make sure you keep your business afloat.
Do Your Homework
Do you remember that sock puppy who was the mascot for Pets.com? He was the only successful and memorable thing to come out of a company that didn’t do its homework. In 1998, Pets.com launched and went public by 2000. After launching a huge and very expensive marketing campaign, Pets.com realized they had no place in the market and wouldn’t make the necessary $300 million to break even the first year, and quickly shut down.
Pets.com failed for a very simple reason; they did absolutely no market research. They had all the tools to be successful, but they never asked if they could be successful with their venture. This is where asking your consumer what they want comes into play. Focus groups, polls, and studies, are all things a company can do to test their product before it hits the market so it doesn't fail like Pets.com. Doing research saves a company’s reputation and money in the long run before it can fail. Asking your consumers what they want will help lead your company in a successful and profitable direction.
Stay True to Yourself
Brand identity is a major part in making it in the world. When a company is first developed and launched, they give the world a certain message of who they are, and consumers get attached. However, when companies try to suddenly go away from that original message, they’re faced with disappointment and failure.
In the 1970s and 1980s, Pepsi had launched a series of very successful marketing campaigns to prove that more people preferred Pepsi to Coke. Rather than simply adjusting its market strategy, Coca Cola went and launched an entirely new line called ‘New Coke’ that was said to have a new and improved taste. After 50 years of developing consumer attachment to their traditional product, people became unhappy and turned off with Coca Cola’s new product. They had completely flipped the script and lost business because of it.
While change is necessary in today’s world to keep up, a company should try to maintain its original identity overall. Tradition and familiarity are great ways to keep consumers coming back again and again to your brand, while keeping up with the current times. It’s like changing clothes. Try as many different styles as you want but keep who you are the same.
Keep It Consistent
Staying true to your brand’s message is continued with this next piece. Many brands have identity issues when it comes to various marketing vehicles. Different messages are given to customers through social media, television, radio, etc. and it gets the consumer confused.
Different vehicles do mean different approaches to marketing, but the message can still be the same. By keeping it consistent, consumers will know who your company is and what you can give to them. Create a common theme or slogan around the various vehicles and customer confusion will dwindle keeping them with your company and buying your product.
Everyone was raised hearing the phrase ‘Honesty is the best policy.’ Dishonesty is one way to sink your brand fast and keep consumers from ever coming back. While this may seem like a basic thing to steer away from, but companies have been caught time and time again lying to their consumers.
Volkswagen is one of the best examples of dishonest practices. After having a great reputation of producing reliable and excellent cars, it was revealed in 2015 that software had been installed in 11 million cars to dupe emission testing. Instantly, they felt the impact with fines and a massive drop in sales. While they have made it their goal to rebuild consumer trust, no one has forgotten the scandal and the company’s reputation will be forever changed.
The easiest way to avoid this is to simply tell the truth and abide by ethical business practices. Consumers’ trust is worth more than any dollar amount it could be given. And when that trust is lost, it takes a very long time to gain it back, if it is ever gained back.
Little Company, HUGE Ego
Did you know Cosmopolitan, the famous women’s magazine once tried products? A little-known experiment tried in 1999 had been assumed to be a huge success due to the brand’s well-known name. The company rested on its laurels, assuming the brand name on their yogurts and cheeses would be enough to sell their product successfully without doing any marketing or advertising to consumers. Within a year, the company pulled their products and decided to stick to fashion and publication.
Assumptions are never good in business. Just like Pets.com assumed they could be successful without any market research, Cosmopolitan thought their name would carry them but it didn’t. No matter how successful a company is, letting their ego get the better of them is never a good idea. Don’t think for a moment a name or reputation will give you enough business to be successful. Always try to be better than the best, even if the best is yourself.
In business, no matter how successful a company is, at one point or another, it will fail in some way. Maybe it won’t be as catastrophic as some but failure is a failure and is bad for business no matter what. By avoiding some simple missteps, a company can avoid failure. Ultimately, learn from the past and do things better than your predecessors.