4 brand blunders and marketing mishaps to learn from


Their product name was globally accepted to describe a normal business activity. The brand name was a synonym for “photocopying,” and for some reason they tried to change that. After attempting to expand the brand in the direction of more advanced automation and computing, their market share of copy machines fell sharply.

When you are a common household name, you’re already winning. Trying to innovate your brand can confuse consumers and disassociate you from what you’re known for.


Disney excels at marketing, and knows exactly how to run with what is hot. Rewind back to when Hannah Montana was on top (before Miley Cyrus turned into the eclectic artist she is today). Disney moved to quickly merchandise as many Hannah Montana products as possible to capitalize on the hype. The karaoke microphones and lunchboxes made sense and were appropriate to the show itself. Though they should have stopped before they got to the official Hannah Montana cherries.


Opportunities present themselves to you all the time, but before you go overboard, give them some thought first. Does it make sense to your brand? Does it fit with your marketing goals? Is it appropriate?

The Gap

The American clothing giant has been around for nearly forty-eight years. During that time, they changed their logo twice. They made the first logo change just over six years ago to an image they hoped would appeal to a younger hipper crowd. They spent millions of dollars on rebranding only to have their second logo change happen two days later, back to the original.

There is nothing wrong with rebranding your business, but you have to think of all of the effects it may have. Marketers focus on the metrics but less quantifiable factors like a customer’s feelings can have a huge impact on the adoption of change.


I got a good chuckle from this, but trust me it’s a completely warranted bit of schadenfreude. Back in the nineties, Panasonic was looking for a mascot to show off their new PC. They ended up choosing Woody the Woodpecker, a solid cartoon with a cute and approachable appearance. It was a good start, until they decided to name the new PC, “The Woody,” and decided to call their groundbreaking touch screen technology “Touch Woody.” I wish I was kidding, and unfortunately there’s more. They also named their automated online support functionality, “Internet Pecker.”


Despite the hilarious nature of this marketing mishap, there is actually an effective lesson here. Remember that Panasonic is a foreign company and back in the early nineties struggling with a language barrier was a more common problem. Now, can you say that you are speaking the language of all your consumers? Before you run a campaign, try running it past people from different walks of life who are slang-savvy.