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6ac76179cd0c69a833af1796 1920 - The Lighter Side - Day Fourteen - Branding From A Corporate Perspective


I had so much fun writing the last lighter side post on branding that I just had to carry it a little further today!

In case you are not aware of this series, it is a regular type of post I make here that is meant to be a quick read with a valuable lesson.

These are generally focused on one aspect of online marketing, and try to provide some entertainment, be educational, and engaging all at the same time.

Today’s subject of branding was covered in a limited manner yesterday ( you can read it HERE) and today I want to look at what the big companies are doing when it comes to branding.

In going through the research for the post, I could see many ways that those of us in the online marketing business could adapt some of the tools they use for our own programs…

I also found out about some of the pitfalls of NOT branding in a clear and transparent manner and the consequences for companies when this was the case…

More lessons!

Now let’s see exactly what I found!


To  get an idea how enthusiastic big brands are about opening up about how they do business, I have added a very interesting and popular TED talk for you today…

The presenter is      who you may know from some of his other independent productions that have been massively successful, in spite of the relative size of his company compared to the big Hollywood names…

Branding from another perspective…

[videoframes src=”” skin=”17″ controls=”1″ headline_text=”The Greatest TED talk ever sold!” headline_color=”#000000″ headline_size=”22″]

The interesting points for me were the reluctance of the companies to have how they market and brand their products shown to the public for all to see…

In fact, many of the company executives approached turned him away immediately…They had NO interest in showing John Q. Public how they do business.

Little wonder, because this guy has a habit of making the subjects of his films (often companies) appear in a less than flattering  light when it comes to some of the practices commonly used in whatever niche he is exploring…when he puts his inquisitive camera in front of millions of viewers…

This unflattering picture meant that even some of the “smaller” big companies he approached had no interest. That surprised me, because if you are doing business in an ethical manner, why would you not want to get your brand out there through his film?

Why indeed…

It is a fact that in the world of branding and marketing, there are often a lot of deceptive or less than forthright methods and gimmicks used to sell stuff…

These companies are big enough that they can manipulate the game in a way that you or I cannot. Unfortunately, their little secrets often manage to gain freedom nonetheless, and once free, they can never be hidden again…

It is up to us to find out about them many times because the politicians have been paid to make sure they are protected. Often it is only after some negative experience that their practices  get exposed…

Biggest Branding Fiascos

It is true that we can learn from other’s mistakes. Over the years there have been some doozies too! Let’s look at a few of the biggest ones…

Below is an excerpt from a crazy egg blog found at


The post points out 5 lessons to be learned from branding and marketing mistakes and provides examples of each. These are good lessons for all of us, not just the big companies…

Lesson 1: There’s a fine line between being different and offensive

Getting people’s attention isn’t easy these days.

Efforts to stand out by being shocking and controversial sometimes pay off and other times, not so much.

British fashion brand Harvey Nichols made one of the biggest branding mistakes of 2012 after they tried to visualize the popular phrase ‘try to contain your excitement’ with ads showing models peeing themselves.

harveynichols - The Lighter Side - Day Fourteen - Branding From A Corporate Perspective

The ad was surely different and sparked interest but it, unfortunately, backfired.

Another brand on AdWeek’s list, Spy Sunglasses tried to be witty and humorous with their copy when they plastered the slogan ‘Happy to Sit on Your Face’ on billboards. The billboard, slated for a six-month stint, was taken down after only one month.

spysunglasses - The Lighter Side - Day Fourteen - Branding From A Corporate Perspective

Last, but certainly not least, in the offensive category is a PETA ad claiming that going Vegan will turn your boyfriend into a “Tantric porn star.”

Domestic violence groups and others failed to see the humor in this portrayal of men with a veggie-fueled sex drive battering and bruising their girlfriends.

bwvaktboom - The Lighter Side - Day Fourteen - Branding From A Corporate Perspective

Bottom line: You have to be different to gain attention but make sure you know the line between different and offensive.

Lesson 2: In a socially connected world, hiring the right people is more important than ever

Here at The Daily Egg, we talk a lot about the power of social media and how beneficial it can be for a business.

However, as Spider-Man would say, with great power comes great responsibility.

The truth is, you can’t stop social media and you can’t control it.  Your employees can torpedo your brand in a millisecond.

It’s never been more important to have the right people working for you.

Burger King had to run an internal investigation and deal with international-scale embarrassment after an employee posted the following picture on the anything-goes forum 4chan with the caption “This is the lettuce you eat at Burger King”.

A single image like this can do some serious damage.

burgerking - The Lighter Side - Day Fourteen - Branding From A Corporate Perspective

Would you hire this guy?

Businesses also suffer when employees running their official accounts mistakenly post their personal tweets and messages to the company account.

StubHub had to apologize and do some damage control after an employee (thinking they were logged into their personal account) posted the following tweet to the official StubHub twitter.

stubhub - The Lighter Side - Day Fourteen - Branding From A Corporate Perspective

A tweet on the official Gap page simultaneously told people to stay safe during Hurricane Sandy while encouraging them to shop at Gap too.

gap - The Lighter Side - Day Fourteen - Branding From A Corporate Perspective

These are exciting times.  Your brand message can reach millions in a split second. Choose the people that will represent your brand carefully.

Lesson 3: Double check your work.  Then… check it again.

We are often too close to our work to see an enormous error.

French fashion chain La Redoute inexplicably failed to notice this naked man in the background of a photo that appeared online and in their catalog.  If this doesn’t convince you to double check your work, nothing will.

laredoute - The Lighter Side - Day Fourteen - Branding From A Corporate Perspective

The team at Nestle quickly removed its inaugural Instagram photo on the Kit Kat Facebook page when people drew similarities between the drumming bear and the Internet meme, Pedobear — the unofficial mascot of child pornography.

One Twitter user scoffed “Listen, Nestle, if you want to use the Internet, hire people who understand the Internet.”

Perhaps having a second set of eyeballs would have caught the similarity.

nestle - The Lighter Side - Day Fourteen - Branding From A Corporate Perspective

All of the above examples enforce one important lesson: our familiarity with our own work can make us blind to mistakes.

Yes, even mistakes like a creepy naked man emerging from The Blue Lagoon can be missed.  Double check it people.

Lesson 4:  Like it or not, your message is global.

View your content not only in terms of how your target audience will see it but also the rest of the world.

Content on the Internet is shared across the globe in a matter of seconds. Your word and/or visual choice may not be offensive to your target audience but it could still fail because of how it’s received by the rest of the population.

Ikea was heavily criticized when all things female were removed from their regional catalog in Saudi Arabia. The brand was criticized for the decision and then had to apologize saying that the move was not in line with their values.

ikea - The Lighter Side - Day Fourteen - Branding From A Corporate Perspective

Ashton Kutcher’s brownface makeup and exaggerated Indian accent in a Popchips commercial wasn’t well received, particularly by members of the Indian community.  The ad was perceived as racist.

Israeli officials were outraged when they learned of a clothing store in India called ‘Hitler.’  The store owners claim it is named after their grandfather who earned the nickname, Hitler, because of his strict demeanor.

hitler - The Lighter Side - Day Fourteen - Branding From A Corporate Perspective

Lesson 5:  Honesty is (now more than ever) always the best policy

HealthNet faced embarrassment when it was learned that they were fabricating tweets and twitter handles on their billboards.

The tweets were ironically punctuated with the hashtag #healthnetcares.

healthnet - The Lighter Side - Day Fourteen - Branding From A Corporate Perspective

This last one is a bonus not found in the AdWeek list of blunders.  And, it’s a doozy.

You remember the story…

Chick-fil-A founder Dan Cathy unleashed a firestorm of criticism from gay activist groups saying, “We are very much supportive of the family — the biblical definition of the family unit.”

What you may not have heard was…

In response, Jim Henson’s company severed ties with Chick-fil-A by pulling its toys from their children’s meals.

Jim Henson’s organization had this to say on its Facebook page,

henson2 - The Lighter Side - Day Fourteen - Branding From A Corporate Perspective

Chick-fil-A then issued a safety recall of the Jim Henson toys and backdated the recall to a date previous to the Henson organization severing ties.

This sign found in a Chick-fil-A drive-thru window indicates that the toys were a safety hazard,

chick fil a sign - The Lighter Side - Day Fourteen - Branding From A Corporate Perspective

Pretty tricky eh?

And, to make things worse…

Protesters leveled much of their criticism for Chick-fil-A’s stance on gay marriage and the Jim Henson toy fiasco on the companies Facebook page.

To counter the bad press a fake Facebook account, complete with a stock photo of a young redheaded girl, was created to post supportive comments about the company on their Facebook Wall.  It’s not clear if the fake account was built by Chick-fil-A but their handling of the issue with the Jim Henson organization would lead you to believe that they are capable of this kind of trickery.

abby farle - The Lighter Side - Day Fourteen - Branding From A Corporate Perspective

The lesson here is simple:  don’t lie.  And, if you or someone in your organization does, don’t do it again. The ethics of it aside, the effects of even the whitest of lies can have far-reaching implications.


To provide balance I have found and added some positive stories for your reading pleasure as well…

From the website LinkDex here are 4 GOOD stories…

10 Amazing Brand Story Examples


Here is an excerpt of 5 from that post…

Toms Shoes

toms - The Lighter Side - Day Fourteen - Branding From A Corporate Perspective

Brand Story: According to the website, which includes The Toms Story, founder Blake Mycoskie “witnessed the hardships faced by children growing up without shoes” while traveling in Argentina in 2006. “Wanting to help, he created Toms Shoes, a company that would match every pair of shoes purchased with a new pair of shoes for a child in need,” the site says.

In a Nutshell: One for One.

Measure of Success: To date, Toms says it has given more than 50 million pairs of shoes to children in need, has helped restore sight to over 360,000 people, and has helped provide over 250,000 weeks of safe water in six countries. In addition, Toms launched its Bag Collection in 2015. With each bag purchased, the brand says it will help provide a safe birth for a mother and baby in need.

Why it Works: In an era of unprecedented competition and an abundance of comparison data, Stephen Golub, vice president of digital marketing agency DXagency, notes a new consideration point has become increasingly important: Do people like you?

“With social media, brands are now more than their price points, they are living, breathing entities with personalities, goals and values,” Golub said. “Consumers want to feel not only like they are getting a good product, but that they are getting it from a good brand. For example, Toms was able to enter an extremely competitive industry with products very similar in price, quality and style to that of its established competitors. They were able to do so by combining their product offering with a robust brand story that consumers could get behind and feel good about being a part of.”

Also: It solves a problem, has a visible founder and does good…


gopro copy - The Lighter Side - Day Fourteen - Branding From A Corporate Perspective

Brand Story: In a letter from founder and CEO Nicholas Woodman on the GoPro site, he writes, “GoPro helps people capture and share their lives’ most meaningful experiences with others – to celebrate them together. Like how a day on the mountain with friends is more meaningful than one spent alone, the sharing of our collective experiences makes our lives more fun. The world’s most versatile cameras are what we make. Enabling you to share your life through incredible photos and videos is what we do.”

Befittingly, the brand also has a video story:

In a Nutshell: Think it. See it. Do it.

Measure of Success: The brand recently added a Periscope integration, allowing users to broadcast live from their HERO4 Black or Silver cameras, among countless other partnerships, including one with the NHL. It also recently announced it expected 2015 revenue to be $1.6 billion.

Why it Works: It’s all about community and sharing. According to boilerplate, what began as an idea to help athletes document themselves, GoPro has “become a standard for how people capture themselves engaged in their interests, whatever they may be.”


uber - The Lighter Side - Day Fourteen - Branding From A Corporate Perspective

Brand Story: Uber says it is evolving the way the world moves.

“By seamlessly connecting riders to drivers through our apps, we make cities more accessible, opening up more possibilities for riders and more business for drivers,” the brand adds.

In a Nutshell: Your Ride, On Demand.

Measure of Success: The brand recently celebrated its billionth Uber trip and, according to Business Insider, it is worth more than $62.5 billion and is raising $2 billion in funding.

Why it Works: Uber is the rebellious taxi alternative that has redefined transportation.


airbnb - The Lighter Side - Day Fourteen - Branding From A Corporate Perspective

Brand Story: Airbnb says it