Why Brand Experimentation Can Be Dangerous


When I say “Summer Olympics,” what do you think?  You probably have feelings of national pride.  You remember iconic athletes like Jesse Owens, Michael Phelps, and Carl Lewis.  Maybe memories of watching your favorite sports live, late at night, come to mind.  You’re definitely thinking of the five rings, and the bright colors laid over one another.

A Different Story in 2012

But, I doubt you’re thinking of the 2012 London Summer Olympics logo.  If you haven’t seen it, click over to take a look.  The logo is unlike anything the world-famous Olympic brand has ever done before. … and, most people don’t seem to think that’s a good thing.  Especially the youth that the 2012 logo targets.

Now, with the games drawing near, the backlash that surrounded its summer ’07 debut has heated back up again.  So, what does all this controversy mean for you?  A little lesson in why brand experimentation can be dangerous.

Sticking to What Works

So, should you always stick to what works?  No, not necessarily.  Growth is how a business survives.  Anticipating customers’ desires and knowing the direction of your brand’s story can help keep things moving quite swimmingly.  But, do it without uncertain experimentation.

For Example…

Focus on the problems your customers face.  If you offer website design services, everything may be going great with your brand, until you notice a recurring problem: clients keep turning to you to find hosting, which is a service you don’t offer.

Now you have an opportunity to expand your brand.  You may not want to get into website hosting, but you can probably set up a referral program with a website host you know and trust!  Now, you’ve fixed a client’s problem, opened up another stream of revenue for your company, and you’ve expanded your brand.  No dangerous experimentation here!

When you focus on problems, you begin to see opportunities for expansion that don’t constitute wild experimentation!  Focus on these problems in your content strategy, and expand your brand responsibly

Experimentation Is A Problem…

… when you haven’t done the proper research, or considered your customers’ existing issues.  Your gut feeling that the customers who use your website design might also be interested in your services as a photographer isn’t enough to justify branching out.  Throwing in extra “services” like that in the midst of the rest of your website content is the type of dangerous brand experimentation you want to avoid!

So, remember, when you want to experiment with your brand, eliminate some of the risk by responding to a customer’s pain point.  Don’t operate on your own assumptions about what your customers may want from your brand.  Keep it to market research; keep it safe.

As for the Olympics…

… they’ll go on, but the alienating logos continue to aggravate fans.  Expect more bafflement in 2020

Assuming your company doesn’t have quite the same amount of sway as the Olympics, it’s important to stick to what works, and develop your brand responsibly!  Don’t forget to develop your content strategy appropriately to see brand growth in new areas.

How has experimentation in your brand been received by customers?  What lessons have you learned?

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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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