When it comes to branding, there are an array of factors to take into consideration. However, even some of the biggest, most successful companies have experienced their fair share of disastrous branding moments.

So if you’re looking at branding your company, or taking your brand global, it’s well worth noting the following branding blunders to avoid making the same mistakes.

It may be surprising that Coca-Cola experienced a branding blunder when it came to marketing themselves in China. The name Coca-Cola phonetically sounded like the phrase “bite the wax tadpole” in Chinese. However, luckily for the company, they found a close phonetic alternative instead, kekou kele, which loosely means “let your mouth rejoice”. A close call for one of the biggest brands in the world.

A cautionary tale to consider is that of Sony in 2006. At the time, the company was busy promoting the white PlayStation portable. However, the decision to feature a black woman and a white woman positioned in confrontational poses led to accusations of racism, which resulted in Sony pulling the ads. When it comes to branding your company or products, it’s crucial that you take context and political correctness into careful consideration.

This brand is certainly no stranger to controversy, but it was the brewery’s ad for International Women’s Day that caused a branding disaster. However, the controversy arguably led to more exposure for the brand. BrewDog marketed it’s Pink IPA as Pink IPA, calling it “Beer for girls”, which unsurprisingly caused a branding blunder that the company insisted was satirical.

Another international branding blunder, KFC caused Chinese consumers to have their doubts about the company’s famous food, as the slogan “finger looking good” was translated to “eat your fingers off”. 

The supermarket chain experienced their share of branding mishaps when a poster intended for internal staff was advertised in one of the company’s stores in London. The poster read: “Let’s encourage every customer to spend an additional 50p during each shopping trip between now and the year’s end.”

The American Red Cross
An easy branding blunder to make is mixing up your company’s personal and staff social media accounts. And The American Red Cross are all too familiar with this particular mishap. The well-respected non-profit organisation was seen to tweet “#gettingslizzered, which didn’t go unnoticed by the public or media.

Unfortunate translations are a recurring theme in branding blunders. Notably, Coors’ slogan, “Turn It Loose,” translates in Spanish, as a colloquial term for having diarrhea.

Tropicana’s redesign in 2008 proved to be a branding mistake that the company learned from. The brand shifted its famous real orange design in favour of a more bland, ambiguous image. As a result, sales fell by 20% and the company made the wise decision to return to its original branding.

2012 saw one new clothing brand face significant backlash when they launched their store called “Hitler”. Of course, the store found themselves the centre of international controversy and outrage due to the obvious association with Adolf Hitler. Again, this branding blunder proves that context and research are everything!

While branding blunders can be entertaining to read about, we hope this blog has also illuminated how easy it can be for brands to find themselves in hot water. So, when you’re branding your company’s name, image, or products, don’t forget to take context and international translations into careful consideration. One way to ensure you market yourselves to the best of your ability is by hiring a diverse range of staff, to ensure representation of genders, cultures and languages.

Branding at Candy Marketing

At Candy Marketing, we can assist with your branding efforts, ensuring a smooth launch of your company or products. Please don’t hesitate to get in touch with our team of marketing experts to take your brand to the next level. After all, good branding can make your company a household name.

We have the experience to help you put together the perfect brand and to implement your new products into a perfectly designed and functioning eCommerce website. If you would like to find out more about the entire process, and how Candy can help you get to where you want to be with the perfect preparation for new products, contact us today. You can reach us on 0161 826 0123 or email us hello@candymarketing.co.uk.