Anti-Brand Awards

In the branding world we rely on awards in various shapes and sizes to justify our work and efforts. How else will we know if that campaign really elevated the coolness of Brand X? I mean, the brief clearly said “we want to be the cool brand.”

Now, for the purpose of this article I don’t want to focus on the advertising industry’s awards — those are bad enough. I want to focus on the type of awards where brands are somehow ordered from 100 to 1, or where a community of voters select their number one brands in categories such as “coolest bank” or “favourite supermarket”.

Now, I totally understand how these things came about. Egos needed stroking, media space needed to be sold. What I don’t understand is the complete lack of an opposite offering: the Worst Brands. Everyone loves a good brand, but let’s be honest: brands disappoint more than they delight. Let’s take the Sunday Times Top Brands as an example. They have a category for “Telecoms Providers”. This is not a category filled with choice or riddled with great experiences and positive feedback. It’s a mess. How can anyone in this category remotely be considered a “top brand”? My own experience with MTN is the stuff of nightmares. Remember this guy below for Cell C?

The most honest banner you’ll ever see. (Photo credit:

Not only will the Worst Brands be a refreshing new addition to the awards calendar, it will also place renewed emphasis on accountability for brands. There will be only one criteria: measuring the gap between promise and delivery. The bigger the gap, the better your chances of winning Worst Brand. Now, I am not a betting man, but I would place a crisp R50 note on the table to see if a winner in the Top Brands also walks away with the spoils in Worst Brands.

It all boils down to perspective and the questions being asked. Imagine if we asked the same people in the Top Brands survey to also list their worst brands. Those are the results I would like to see…

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