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Brand Fails: When Brands Take a Wrong Turn

September 30, 2019 - Stephan Salt

In my last blog, I mentioned some strange and wacky ventures that famous brands have taken. So I thought I would continue, with more ways famous companies went on to create brand fails.

Speaking about taking off, Virgin is a brand that has done so many strange and wonderful things in the past (OK maybe not so wonderful – but was strange nevertheless). Do you remember their venture on being a competitor with Coca Cola?

Virgin Cola Ad

Virgin Cola was launched back in 1994 – 25 years ago – and believe it or not, it became the UK’s most popular cola drink in the 90s which then caught the awareness of Coca-Cola.

Fortunately – for some people – it was discontinued here within the UK. Now we can say with ease “it’s gone”. You’ll probably only find it online with the past sell-by or best before dates. Speaking of Coca-Cola they made some strange choices too. Back in the 80s and now (why now I hear you say; well it made it to our TV screens with the return of Stranger Things)

New Coke Design Stranger Things

New Coke! Was something that Coca-Cola reformulated in 1985 because they were losing shares on the market place due to other soft drinks that had Diet before it. Market research and blind tests found customers preferred Pepsi to Coke leading to an overhaul of the recipe. The world didn’t react to this as they wanted and within a few years, New Coke was considered as a failure which then they rebranded to “Classic”. It was later rebranded again but in 2003 it was pulled off our shelves and never seen again until Stranger Things.

But enough about Coca-Cola, another venture that never really caught on was Virgin’s take on cosmetics. Virgin Vie was something a cross mix of what Avon and The Body Shop have. They had outlet stores offering beauty products such as – obviously makeup, goods for the home such as diffusers and candles to jewellery and to top it all off they had home party groups, which were held by sales reps incentivised to sell products at house parties.

The Virgin Cosmetics Company

But, if you didn’t know, 2009 the company was bought out by Rod Simmons who renamed the company Vie at Home. The brand has continued, unfortunately it didn’t work out for Virgin but it worked for someone else which is not all doom and gloom.

Zippo did something that would normally go up in flames if a lighter went near it. They wondered how lighter fluid would perform as a perfume. Well, I’m not sure either as they didn’t make that, but they did make a brand of perfume which lo and behold didn’t do that well. But if you look online now I am sure again you’ll be able to find bottles of the stuff. Beware – flammable.

Zippo Perfume

Zippo also tapped into the market of pens, watches and even clothing. BIC is another example of the effect of brand on expectation. In 1989 BIC chose to venture to something new. This was perfume which was completely new and not even relevant to their company. That said they did do single-use pants for women too. But back to the perfume customer and critics alike didn’t like this and it cost BIC dearly.

BIC Perfumes

It is strange how you associate a brand with what is most successful about them. Colgate and their lasagne would have been a little strange. Guessing you’re thinking you wouldn’t want to try a mint flavoured and tasting beef lasagne.

Before Walkers bought out Golden Wonders’ Watsits, they had Cheetos and in 2005 Cheetos created a lip balm of all lip balms and yes in case you were wondering – it was cheese flavoured. There are many reasons why this didn’t fly off the shelves. But they tried it and learned from it.

Colgate Beef Lasagna

So, with all this, you might think differently. Think of your brand and understand how your customers and consumers of your products perceive you. So if you’re a famous Cola company you wouldn’t want to brand a range of dried cat food, would you? It’s all in the market research and the right way of telling your story, plus making it right for the perception of your brand.

Cheetos lip balm

Even if you’re a new company wanting to brand yourself or an existing one wanting a refresh, and need a company that will help you with this including research in what is right for the brand, then Fifteen can help you achieve this.

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