The Dark Side of Branding

It’s much more apparent now than ever before, that branding is the main focus of many companies – which makes sense because having a great brand always pays big dividends in the business.

Branding is more than a logo, clever tagline, color pallet or consistent messaging. Branding is aligning your company’s values with the ones of your consumers. It’s about making people feel good about themselves – or to put it like Jeremiah Gardner – “branding is just creating meaningful relationships with people by providing high value”.

In this sense, a brand is worth more than the tangible assets of a company. For example the estimated brand (iconic value) of the top 3 brands in the world are:

  1. Coca-Cola – With a $65.3 billion in brand equity
  2. Microsoft – With $58.7 billion
  3. Mc Donald – With $29.9 billion

As you might have guessed, Coca-Cola is the most valuable brand in the world. But interestingly enough, Pepsi has been consistently winning blind taste samples with consumers for over 30 years! So what’s Coke’s secret?

Branding of course! Over the years, Coke has created an image that is powerful enough to overcome its taste. Brain scans have shown that the simple act of seeing the Coca Cola logo activates the area of the brain associated with identity and self-image that have a very high priority in the decision making – much more than taste.
Good branding apparently contains high levels of superhero-like powers. And just like all supernatural powers, they can be used to work for good or for evil. We have all seen evil branding at work, and it cons you in to buying something because it “looks good” or “legitimate” but the product or service is completely awful.

Why invest and risk so much in a new idea when you can simply re-brand something that already exists?

Here are a few examples of how smart branding is used for evil:

  • Re-skinning a website or app to attract new users without improving the actual product.
  • Re-branding a poor service without improving the service itself.
  • Changing the shape of a bottle instead of improving the content.
  • Creating product packages for snacks so that look super-healthy box but the product itself doesn’t actually contain healthy ingredients.

The examples above are all lazy shortcuts that might create short term sales, but will ultimately set you up for long-term failure. Clients are smarter than you may think.

So if you really want to rebrand or create a successful brand, first start off by trying something new, take risks, make constant improvements on your products and services, and innovate, imagine and evolve.

Do you have any examples of  “evil” branding you would like to share?

About We

Services Design

Projects It

Contact Together

Ignazio Lacitignola

Founder & Designer

on repeat

Ignazio Lacitignola

Founder & Designer

Ignazio, or “Igi” for friends and colleagues, is an Italian designer, creative, and entrepreneur. He feels weird talking about himself in 3rd person, but for the sake of this bio, he will.

Ignazio has been a curious creative since he can remember and embraced digital design as soon as he could afford a computer and an internet connection that wasn’t 56k dial-up.

Ignazio grew up in the ghetto side of Milano, Italy, and somehow managed to graduate with honors at Nuova Accademia di Belle Arti, without ever going to jail.

He followed his passion and moved to the USA to study User Experience in San Francisco where he launched his career with Meno Design, a digital design studio focused on simplifying digital experiences down to their core and learning through experimentation.

He believes that every piece of design can be a work of art and he is still learning to balance his OCD attention to details with time of execution.

Despite his friendly and calm appearance he deeply enjoys Italian swearing whenever spotting bad design decisions. Which is quite often, however he is quite friendly, you should say hi.