Death by association- failed brands that bounced back

It’s a PR’s worst nightmare- a brand tarnished forever thanks to a third party completely out of its control. After years of carefully planned campaigns and targeted social media content, a good reputation can vanish, gone in the blink of an eye.

In recent months, Samsung, Amazon, Sports Direct and Facebook have all received attention for all the wrong reasons.

What can an organisation do when faced with media backlash?

Restoring a tarnished or fading reputation is no mean feat. However, there are brands who come back from the brink with a bang. Read on to hear some of our favourite success stories.

Burberry

Once chavvy, now classy. Thanks to the popularity of its plaid baseball caps, the brand was once synonymous with rowdy trackie-clad teenagers, but has since undergone an image 180.  In 2008 Burberry overhauled its image by discontinuing its ‘tacky’ product lines, harnessing social media and the power of Kate Moss’ cheekbones. Yobs, football hooligans and Frosty Jacks in the park be gone. Burberry is now once again considered the epitome of British class and luxury- think Emma Watson, think Sloane rangers,  prep school mums and polo matches. Le Burberry trench is chic once more.

 Stella Artois 

AKA the pilsner known to many as ‘wife beater’– the drink of choice for drunken vest sporting hot heads- thanks to supermarkets selling discounted crates during the summer and football matches. More renowned by lager chuggers than beer connoisseurs, the Belgian beer brewed since 1926 has had to claw back some class. The company worked to shed the association with antisocial behaviour by dropping the ‘Stella’ moniker, developing a selection of artisan brews and cider, and pushing its heritage and provenance.

Old Spice

Stale, outdated and associated with middle aged men – not a great position to be in in the early 2000’s. Faced with increasing competition from brands like Lynx, Old Spice needed to revamp, and revamp it did. The brand recruited NFL star Isaiah Mustafa as the face of its new campaign in 2010. The ‘look at your man then look at me’ ad did the trick, dusting off the cobwebs by pulling in millions of views online and cementing Old Spice’s position as a fresh, modern brand.

Lego 

Ah those colourful plastic bricks that take us back to our carefree childhood days where imagination reigned supreme. The rise of the toy box staple wasn’t always smooth. The firm came close to bankruptcy in the 90’s and had to axe several product lines to stay afloat. Nevertheless, Lego has managed to compete successfully with iPads and video games with net worth estimated at £695 million in 2015 and a recent foray into cinema. This year, the brand has topped the list of the world’s most powerful brands for the second time. Proof that an oldie can stand the test of time.

Apple

It’s hard to imagine a world without the iPhone, but that’s precisely what almost happened. Thanks to increasing competition in the computer market, the brand we’ve come to know and love was precariously close to bankruptcy in 1997.

In swoops Steve Jobs to save the day. He took a risk by focusing on Apple as a lifestyle choice rather than trying to emulate competitors. The result was a brand revamp that transformed Apple’s lack lustre image into THE brand for tech lovers everywhere. The branding gamble paid off: Apple’s net worth is now close to $1 trillion.

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