The best thing about writing the Sales Machine blog is that I get to interact with readers who are smarter than I am. Yesterday I posted the "10 Worst Brand Blunders of 2009", which is quickly proving to be one of the most popular posts on this blog.
This post contains some additional 2009 brand blunders that should have been on the list, but which I missed. Fortunately, you guys pointed them out. BTW, the final one is, once again, so over the top that it's hard to believe it's real. But it is. Enjoy:
A standard rules of selling is "you've got to chase Brinks trucks, not garbage trucks." Well, I guess we're going to have to change that rule because the idiots who own the Brinks brand -- a brand that's indelibly associated with security -- decided to change it to "Broadview."
Let's set aside the fact that the new name sounds like a lunchtime pastime of construction workers. This makes about as much sense as changing the Kleenex brand or the Xerox brand. When you've penetrated your brand into the public consciousness, the LAST thing you do is change it to something mushy and meaningless.
In September, Yahoo launched what its executive blog called "Yahoo!'s single-largest global integrated marketing campaign ever." The company spent millions of dollars on a campaign explaining that they were "under new management: YOU" and added the tag line "It's You."
First of all, Yahoo is a consumer media company, and consumers don't give a fly's tiny tuchus who's managing a company. All they care about is product. But it's the tag line that's really stupid. What the heck is that supposed to mean? And how could it possible make people think of Yahoo!
A total waste of time and effort from top to bottom.
Radio Shack -- another highly recognizable brand name -- has decided to rename itself into something that sounds like it should be somewhere off in hillbilly land. The company is spending a big chuck of its $200 million a year ad budget to get rid of the term "Radio", which apparently had an obsolete connotation.
Sure, "Radio" is so, well, 20th century, but at least "Radio Shack" had a kind of WW2-flavored cache of cool. I mean, the "radio shack" was where you kept all the high tech stuff back when radio was high tech. But just plain "The Shack"? That's where Ma and Pa keep their corn cobs.
Fedex paid big money to acquire Kinkos, the premier brand name in copying services. Then, in an act of true branding strangeness, crammed the two together as "Fedex Kinko's", thereby winning the "most awkward brand name in creation" contest. But that wasn't bad enough. Now they've dropped the "Kinko's" part and rebranded as the generic "Fedex Office" apparently in an attempt to make the brand name as plain-wrap as possible.
I'll bet that, if you added all of the expenses up, including advertising, internal discussions, stationery changes, business cards, etc., etc, these ridiculous branding changes cost Fedex over a billion dollars. For what? To make it EVEN LESS CLEAR what the company does.
Barack Obama is more than just a president, he's a brand. He has a very appealing image that is a key element of his ability to lead the country.
Obama's image took a hit for six, though, when he agreed to accept the peace prize. First, even his wildest supporters agree that had really hadn't DONE anything that would justify it. Second, he was on the brink of announcing an escalation of a war.
Obama's brand image -- and the respect that it commands -- would have been much better served if he had reacted with humility and turned the prize down. While he made the best of the occasion with a thoughtful speech, few brand images can survive that level of irony unscathed.