Too Much of a Good Thing? When Branding Goes Bad

There’s nothing worse than alienating your audience.  Unfortunately, that alienation can occur in one fell swoop when a bad copywriter gets to run the show.  There are countless examples of a company’s brand being ruined by bad copywriting (which is probably just a part of a bad content strategy).

The following examples should serve as little reminders for why it’s so important to be on the same page with your content writing service.

Over the Top

Sometimes branding goes too far (or moves too fast).  One of the most common types of over-the-top branding faux pas is overly sexualized branding.  Sex sells, sure.  But when a company tries to load their brand with more sexually charged content than their audience wants, it’s time to start preparing for a backlash.

There are hundreds of examples of a brand tanking because of this scenario.  For Calvin Klein, bouncing back after the backlash that surrounded their 1980 Brook Shields campaign was completely doable.  For other companies, bouncing back is impossible.

Content Without Management

Another way your brand can fly off the rails is when it’s not kept in check.  Whether your content strategy operates on a top-down structure or whether everyone has a fairly equal say at the drawing table, make sure you keep things in check.

Content without management can lead you down a dangerous road.  Small and large businesses alike are vulnerable to the damage done by runaway content.  While most large corporations keep a tight grip on their content management, it isn’t always the case.

With social media being a major part of many companies’ content strategies, customers can define a brand in powerful ways.  Check out this story from Ken Mueller about how CVS let their content slide out of control!  When customers were invited to share positive stories about their pharmacist, CVS received many negative complaints about pharmacists, individual stores, and the company as a whole.

Fad Without Growth

A third way that branding goes bad is quite a common one: the brand is a fad, and it doesn’t re-brand itself for growth.  Fad diets are some of the most common culprits here.  When a brand sinks its entire reputation into a fad diet, the diet either falls out of favor, or it is scientifically disproved.  Oftentimes, under these circumstances, there’s nowhere for the brand to go.

Obviously, fads don’t make for good long-term business models.  But, when the management and content writers are willing to adapt the brand when the fad starts to fade, these businesses can be just as strong as any other.  Take a brand like Converse, for example.  The popular Chuck Taylor shoe hit fad status in the 1960s, but the company has been willing to re-brand its image to grow the company.

Converse has been careful about not allowing its brand to be defined by the fads that develop around it.  It’s important for anyone who is interested in long-term branding to understand this lesson about Converse’s fad awareness and response.

Maintaining a Strong Brand With Your Company

Hopefully, this will provide some food for thought when it comes to your own company.  Maintaining a strong brand is much easier when you have a content writing service that doesn’t go over the top, uses content gatekeepers, and doesn’t try to capitalize on fads without giving any thought to the long term.

What does your company do to keep branding in check?  What other major snafus should be pointed out?


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Ben Richardson is a writer based in Nashville, TN. While he loves writing on a variety of subjects, he's our go-to on all things related to branding and the creative aspects of content marketing. Follow him on Twitter!

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