When branding goes wrong and how to fix it

£383 billion.

The amount spent globally by companies and organisations in 2015 to promote their brand.

One would expect that after spending that kind of dosh, such organisations would have adopted a knack of wooing potential customers their way. Unfortunately, this is not often the case. Here are some of the standout gaffs made by some top companies and how you can turn their shame into your gain.

1. Avoid stereotyping

Case study: Labour general election campaign

Labour’s pink election campaign minibus, intended to attract women voters, was criticised for being patronising.

Photograph: Justin Tallis/AFP/Getty Images

The UK Labour Party choice a pink minibus on the run-up to the general election to target women who did not vote in the previous 2010 election. Deputy Labour leader Harriet Harman said the “woman-to-woman” initiative would demonstrate politics was not just a “men-only” activity.

This campaign received widespread ridicule on social media as being sexist and patronising.

The lesson: Know your customer. Never assume. Use tried and tested methods to understand what’s on the mind of consumers and respond appropriately.

2. Watch your tone

Case study: Mr Kipling cakes

In an attempt to quickly reboot their image, the Kipling brand introduced Mrs Kipling, voiced by actress Joan Kempson, however her introduction wasn’t to everyone’s taste.

So when sales failed to respond, the exit of Mrs Kipling was swift and followed by a return of Mr Kipling back to his warm and comforting best.

The lesson: Ross Farquhar, partner and group business leader at creative agency 101 commented : “The moral of the tale is that throwing the baby out with the bathwater is rarely good advice…if a firm benefits from having valuable brand furniture — whether an icon, catchphrase or jingle — its avoidance must be a matter of commercial necessity.”

3. Do your research

Case study: Toyko 2020 Olympic Games Committee

Tokyo 2020 logo designed by Kenjiro Sano (left) and Théâtre de Liège logo designed by Olivier Debie. Photograph: Tokyo202/Theatre de Liege

There’s more to designing a logo than simply choosing the right shapes, colours and fonts. No matter how beautiful it looks, a logo also has to be unique. Should it turn out to be a copy it can prove costly and spell doom for the brand.

The organisers of the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games learned this the hard way after Belgian graphic designer Olivier Debie filed a lawsuit against the international Olympic committee, claiming the logo designed by Kenjiro Sano bore an obvious resemblance to his design for the Théâtre de Liège. The Tokyo 2020 organising committee withdrew the emblem and set up a new committee to design and select a new logo.

The lesson: Sol Fauquier, European PR manager of 99designs commented: “The key message [this] fiasco is that organisations and companies must take the issue of copyright more seriously than ever before. Even though a design may not infringe copyright laws, a badly planned and executed branding programme can quickly attract criticism on the internet — and generate into a crisis.”

Has this article left you with further questions about branding how to get it right? Leave your comments below.

Originally published at www.opellomedia.com.