Branding. What’s the true cost of getting it wrong?

Branding. It’s a word that all too often gets confused with things such as a logo design, colour palettes, brochure design or, well, just plain old pretty pictures.

Yet branding, in actuality, is far more than any of these single elements. Sure, it can be said to involve all of them – but at its most fundamental level, branding is what encapsulates a company͛s USP, it is what communicates their values, their identity and what it is that
connects a business, with its target market. It͛s incredibly important. And when companies get it wrong, the results can be nothing short of disastrous (as the following examples go to show).

1. BP, a devastating oil spill and a rebrand gone wrong

If it’s not broken, don’t fix it. This old adage can be applied to a never ending number of rebranding exercises when it comes to companies from all industries – case and point made by the redesign of the previously well recognised BP logo. The new incarceration of which bears no resemblance whatsoever to this company’s heritage.

The cost of the logo rollout alone was estimated to total a staggering $211,000,000 – however, even this will be small change when compared to the eventual cost of repairing their brand image following the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico (which underlines the ‘values’ part of branding).

2. Colgate – Not exactly a brand that makes you think of delicious cuisine

Colgate, the toothpaste brand, has worked hard to become a brand synonymous with good oral hygiene. Little wonder then that their foray into ready meals was anything but successful. In this example, it could be said that the branding of their base product worked a little too well.

3. Know Royal Mail? Most Certainly. Remember Consignia? Probably not.

Around a decade ago Royal Mail attempted a complete re-brand (most likely as part of their efforts to address their market positioning, as simply mail carrying had become a less and less profitable line of business). This rebrand saw them switch their name and logo from Royal Mail to Consignia. What did ‘Consignia’ mean? Well, consumers were outright baffled – and the choice of doing away with such a household name could rightly be considered a branding cardinal sin. Luckily the powers that be reverted back only a year later (albeit following a £1.5 million launch).

4. Virgin and, well, too many products to list!

Virgin is a global brand name – revered around the world as innovative, forward-thinking and fresh-faced. Yet this is also a brand that has encapsulated more than ten failed businesses, including Virgin Vie (specialising in home sold beauty products); Virgin Cola; Virginware (specialising in lingerie) and VirginBrides (specialising in bridal wear).

The moral of the story? Sometimes the right brand in almost every other industry imaginable will be a disaster in another.

And the cost of getting it right? Well, the proof of the pudding (or rather, the beans)…

Branding doesn’t only work towards getting your consumer to part with their pounds, it can actually change an entire perception of a product or service, even after we’ve consumed, used, eaten or drank it.

The perfect example of which is Heinz Beans. In taste tests undertaken by their competitor, 76% preferred Branston’s. However, upon revealing the brand names, it was Heinz that most people plumped for (Common-sense Direct Marketing).

Branding is critical to any company, in any industry and it goes way beyond colours, design and logos. Get it right, and literal dividends may be paid. Get it wrong, however, and the result can be an unmitigated (and incredibly expensive) disaster.