7 Ways Bad Branding Hurts Brand Image

April 2, 2024
Written by
Ali Saeed
April 2, 2024
Table of Contents (click to go there)

What is bad branding?

Bad branding means a bad perception of the business. It creates a negative impression of the business which in the end hurts your brand image

We explain the 7 examples of bad branding and how it hurts the brand image of the company.


1. Consumers forget the brand

2. Consumers lose brand trust

3. Locals don’t value the brand

4. Good products fail

5. Even new products fail

6. Spending more on advertising

7. Lacking a tone of voice


1. Consumers Forget The Brand

Businesses often believe in the first-mover advantage, which is the idea that your brand needs to be the first in the market in order to succeed.

Hence, they are always in a race to become the “First of its kind” brand, to also benefit from “First-mover advantages” in distribution, product quality, and market share.

Brands don't have to be the first to succeed. History showed that latecomers also performed well.

Google wasn’t the first search engine. It was Lycos. Yet, they have branded themselves as being the first.

Apple didn’t create the first computer. Altair did. But Apple made the computer accessible to everyone and became known for being the first manufacturer of personal computer.

P&G says it created America’s first disposable nappies in 1961. Johnson and Johnson created one of the first disposable diapers, Chux, a quarter-century before P&G.

Have you ever heard of the first-mover brands such as Lycos, Altair, and Chux? No right? That’s because despite being the first comers to the market, they weren’t the first to the mind of consumers. Hence, they were forgotten as time passed.

Their brand positioning was unclear and branding was not effective. 

Al Ries said it perfectly,

“People don’t really care about new brands, they care about new categories”

It involves seeking new opportunities by understanding who are your consumers and what are their real problems.

The word “category” in the above quote refers to the brand positioning strategy

It is more important for companies to invest in the brand strategy that brings out their unique voice and creates a new category for themselves - thus creating a positive brand image.

2. Consumers lose brand trust 

Research shows that 59% of consumers buy from brands they trust

Often businesses blame product quality for low revenue. According to former Starbucks Marketing VP,

“Consumers don’t truly believe there’s a huge difference between products”

Therefore, there is no real difference between products from different brands.

The reasons for low business revenues and growth are many. One of them is the fact that the brand failed to maintain the brand's trust with consumers.

Brand trust refers to consumers' expectation that the brand's product, service, or behavior matches what it has promised before. 

There are branding sins that break the brand trust that consumers have. 

One of them is Brand Deception, where the brand blatantly lies about its products.

Activia, a product of Danone, was found guilty of claiming that consuming their product 3 times a day can improve digestive irregularities.

However, in a legal lawsuit, that claim had no research backing it and was proven to be false marketing

This kind of deceptive marketing destroys brand trust and creates a negative brand image. 

The brand can gain in the short term but harms them in the long run.

3. Locals don’t value the brand 

What do you think of global brands such as P&G, Walmart, AT&T, Airbnb, and so on? Well, you probably think one of these,

  1. You can trust them
  2. Their product quality is excellent
  3. They have amazing pricing and so on

Look at Hamilton Family Brewery. And compare it with a global giant such as Budweiser.

Budweiser and Bud Light (both manufactured by the same company) owns almost 20% of the beer market in the US combined.

Anheuser-Busch InBev (the company behind Budweiser) made around $48 million in 2020. Compare that to Hamilton, which is a local brewery in California, and has expected to have made around $15 million in 2020.

You would think the Hamilton brand doesn’t stand a chance to grow in the global market. How can it compete with the giant brand Budweiser?

Well, they don’t focus on competing with global brands. Instead, they pride themselves on being a local brewery in Rancho Cucamonga, California. 

Their slogan “Love people, love beer” gives the sense of enjoyment of drinking beer with those you love. 

Where Budweiser targets those who prefer luxury-style tasting around the world, Hamilton Family Brewery is a brand owned by locals. And that’s what makes them strong.

Their audience doesn’t care if they are bigger than Budweiser, Coors, or any other big brands. They value the local culture of friendship and family that Hamilton is known for.

Local brands have a competitive advantage - The infusion of local culture into their brand identity.

Interestingly, local brands do have a chance to go global.

Under the mindset of “Think Global, Act Local”, a brand with excellent branding, a clear target market, and a process of assessing and growing value over time can expand across geographic boundaries, and consumer segments and even capture new markets.

If your brand is local, you have strong competitive advantages over global competitors, as explained by Marty Huggins.

1. Local brands focus on meeting local needs

2. Local brand benefit from word-of-mouth advertising

3. Local brands are viewed as having higher quality products

4. Local brands are regarded as sustainable and ethical as opposed to large global brands

You don’t have to worry about competing with the giants if you can become a local giant!

4. Good products fail

People want to create the perfect product with outstanding features that will break the market.

However, perfect products can fail the same way as bad products do.

Coca-Cola made the first change to its formula in 99 years and introduced New Coke. The product was surveyed among 200,000 people and the result showed that it tasted better than the previous Coke. 

It tasted better than Pepsi too! But yet it failed miserably. Why?

Because Coca-Cola was more than just a bottle of coke for them. It was the American way of living, of refreshing yourself on a hot summer day. 

That is also why marketing is not about products anymore.

Coca-Cola has a strong brand identity that it maintained for years. The change of taste resembled a change in brand identity. Consumers felt Coke wasn’t the same as before

Product quality is crucial. But businesses must back it with a strong branding identity system to achieve full success. 

5. New products fail too

Some folks think their new product or service will succeed in the market and be loved by the public. Sorry to break the ice but that’s just not true.

According to a study by Harvard Business School, over 30,000 new products are launched each year, and 80–95% of them fail.

According to Nielsen Statistics, more than 85% of new products fail.

This is not just to demotivate you. But these are clear facts.

There are many reasons why such a high rate of new products fail. If it doesn’t solve a real problem or have a good use, then what’s the point?

Look at Ponds. They are known for producing beauty care products such as soap, facial creams, face wash, and so on. 

Their brand identity celebrates women’s courage and personality. So their products matched the target consumers.

Over time, they’ve dived into personal care and hygiene. In 2005, they introduced their own toothpaste. That was a bad decision.

All its products revolved around the category of beauty. Toothpaste is a whole other genre.

The company forgot its brand identity, who they are, and why consumers choose its products. 

The toothpaste failed miserably and was pulled off the shelves pretty soon.

Brands need to have a clear identity system that differentiates them from their competitors.

Not connecting with the right audience is just one of the many worst branding mistakes businesses end up doing.

6. Spending more on advertising

There is a myth that strong brands are strong because of their successful advertising campaigns. But such brands also have a strong brand identity behind them.

For example, look at no name, a discount private label brand. They are known for their satirical packaging and advertising campaigns. (as you can see below)

You would think they do it just to differentiate themselves from competitors. Yes, but that’s not all.

Their style of marketing is a direct result of their company’s core values. Here’s what I see as their core value, 

“To inhabit a minimalist approach to everything, emphasizing a “No Frills” mentality in the production of products, marketing, and consumer relations” 

Those who love their brand do so because they connect with their core value. They love a minimalist, simple, and to-the-point attitude towards developing products and marketing.

What is the core value of your brand?

What makes it stand out from the rest?

Why does your brand exist?

What unique does it have to offer? 

These are just some of the elements we cover when we form an effective brand strategy for a client.

7. Lacking a tone of voice

Let me tell you why brand voice is so important.

Brand tone of voice expresses your personality and values through the words you use to communicate with your audience.

It shapes your brand’s persona, and reflects what you stand for and what are your values. 89% of shoppers stay loyal to brands that share their values.

Research shows that presenting a brand consistently across platforms can increase revenue by 23%

Starbucks brand voice sounds amazing. They use a functional and expressive tone of voice to convey unique meanings

Using both expressive and functional tones, the brand creates room for relevance, connection, and joy.

Other times the copy will have you smiling, while other times it will lead you directly down the path of purchasing.

Brands with bad branding lack a distinct brand voice.

Hence, their audience doesn’t resonate with them on a deeper level. 

They don’t see why they should choose that brand over the other trusted brands. That affects their brand image.


Brand Image: What is it and how to improve it?

Brand Image is the perception that consumers have of the product or brand. It’s what they hear.

How to improve the brand image?

By designing a holistic brand identity

In Branding identity, we create visual communication mediums such as logos, colors, and fonts in a way that positively identifies the brand among your potential consumers.

In the process, we also define the brand tone of voice. For example, do you love talking in satirical ways or prefer to be professional?

These attract the right type of audience that actually share the same voice as you do.

Anyways, we’d love to know your opinions: Did you develop a newfound appreciation for branding identity? 

Let us know your thoughts down below!


Ali Saeed

Ali Saeed is a strategy-focused graphic designer and marketer based in Kuwait, with four years of experience in shaping social brands, company profiles, and presentations. His foray into web design and development is driven by a keen understanding of marketing and business principles, enabling him to deliver design solutions that are not only visually compelling but also strategically effective.

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