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Al and Laura Ries quoted in 22 Immutable Laws of Branding, “Today most products are bought, not sold”.

If you’re thinking ‘what does that mean?’, ask yourself a question: Are you selling a product or are your consumers purchasing from your brand?

Still confused?

In the past, products decided the fate of a company. If sales fell continuously, then the company also failed. However, as living standards upgraded, the shift from product to brand is evident. With the rise in digital media and the increasing need for personalization, people no longer seek products; they seek the brand. People remember the brand, resonate emotionally with it, and the brand becomes part of their daily lives. Simply selling products is a thing of the past. 

Unfortunately, brands also make mistakes which can be costly. What happened when Kellogg’s introduced Cereal Mates? Or when Volkswagen didn’t deliver on a promise? Or when a brand hires the wrong influencer?

Two words: Brand failure.

Even the biggest brands can mess up with their marketing. One wrong move and a brand can end up with huge losses and angry consumers. If you’re confused over whether your marketing is working or not, take a look at why brands can fail.


Imagine a scenario where you have the perfect idea for your brand. Your idea is to sell an ‘all-in-one’ breakfast item like cereal. But the twist is you will include a plastic spoon and the cereal in a milk container. It’s perfect for those who are on the go and don’t have time for breakfast. On paper, the idea is good and convenient. Who wouldn’t want ready made cereal?

That’s what a brand like Kellogg’s thought when they introduced their Cereal Mates product range. 

However, the product failed.

One of the main reasons is that they did not properly research the consumers’ tastes. The milk container did not need refrigeration and hence, remained warm. But consumers didn’t like it because let’s face it, cereal tastes best when mixed with cold milk. When Kellogg’s tried to accommodate it with cold milk, consumers became confused because cereal is not normally placed in the fridge with the milk. 

So yes, the brand failed and the product was immediately pulled from the market.

This is just one example highlighted by Matt Haig in his book Brand Failures. Ideas without proper research and product trial can cause brand efforts to fail and even a brand like Kellogg’s had to learn it the hard way.

As a digital marketing agency, Notionhive focuses on this stage the most. Through proper research and testing, our ideation processes follow proper strategic plans to ensure that our brands achieve the maximum results. So don’t let your brand make the same mistake as Kellogg’s did!


Volswagen is known for its reliability, performance, and environmentally responsible practices. Being one of the most popular car brands in the world, the PR teams always maintained that they are pledged to less carbon emissions. 

However, in 2015, the ‘diesel dupe’ happened.

Effective public relations can vastly improve a brand’s relationship with its consumers. Delivering on their promises and communicating them can avoid major brand crises. However, failure to deliver on the value can result in brand failure. To add fire to the fuel, the brand might even face lawsuits. As the world becomes increasingly digital, PR strategies are crucial for a brand’s success. Nothing is hidden online so if a PR team is caught lying, it can derail the brand’s image for good

In 2015, information was leaked that 11 million Volkswagen cars had deceptive emissions testing. The brand also made the mistake of not handling the PR crisis well and hiding such information only deteriorated its brand value. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) found over 482,000 cars in the US alone to release harmful carbon emissions. VW’s PR team claimed that they conducted an internal investigation and found only 10,000 vehicles were at fault.

Result? A £30 billion lawsuit and a herculean task of regaining consumers’ trust. Furthermore, governments of different countries became involved and began to question the brand’s ethics. It had to recall 8.5 million cars and the market share fell by one third. Also, the CEO of VW at that time resigned.

Needless to say, the PR was a disaster for the brand.

If your company is handling a PR crisis, make sure that every detail put out to the public is true. At Notionhive, we counsel our clients to prepare proper investigations and advise them to deliver consistent messaging to all their stakeholders in order to avert a crisis like this. Through research, strategy, and consistent communication in all digital platforms, we ensure that our clients deliver their values to the stakeholders.


While ‘people’ can include brand advocates, employees, and even top-level executives, we will focus here on the brand ambassadors or influencers who are associated with the brand. 

Why is it important to choose the right brand ambassador?

As a brand’s spokesperson or advocate, the ambassadors are responsible for keeping the image intact. Their followers want the advocates to be honest and maintain a clean slate. They will only purchase from a brand through an influencer if they are sure that the influencer is reliable. 

But what happens when the influencer or ambassador is involved in a controversy and breaks their followers’ trust? Does it affect the brand?

In one word: Yes. Just ask Louis Vuitton.

One major scandal in the Asian continent is the arrest of Kris Wu, a Chinese pop idol who represented brands like Louis Vuitton, Bulgari, and Lancome. With millions of fans, Kris Wu was one of the most popular Asian celebrities in the world. His influence has a Midas touch; whatever he endorsed used to rapidly sell out in Asia especially in China. As the global spokesperson of these brands, Kris Wu was responsible for attracting young and impressionable Asians. 

However, after he was accused by women of sexual based crimes, the netizens were quick to condemn him and the brands he represented. Furthermore, the accusations were proven true and the legal authorities became involved. 

The backlash was instant.

Chinese netizens are quite brutal when they boycott a brand. Due to the country’s deep-rooted beliefs in Confucianism, anything amoral is against their values and hence, the brands in question had to cut ties with Kris Wu to save face. The amount of hate messages and cancellations increased day by day and it stretched to months. Louis Vuitton, in particular, was criticized for being too slow in cutting off Kris and their target audience in China began to opt for alternative brands. Sales dropped faster than flies.

When creating campaigns, Notionhive stresses the importance of an effective influencer strategy to communicate the brand’s image. Our previous campaign with a clothing brand used popular influencers to effectively communicate the brand to the audience. The number of followers is relevant but more important is the engagement rate and the trust between the influencer and their followers. We chose the influencers based on their background, reach, image, and follower engagement.

Digital Marketing

At Notionhive, we maintain that digital marketing is like a double-edged sword. The large scope of digital platforms and online connectivity, allows brands to appeal to the consumers’ emotions, forge bonds, and communicate the brand’s message on several platforms at once. Thanks to rapid digitalization, brands can completely sell online without having a physical store. Consumers can either connect directly with the brands and some even become passionate brand advocates.

Or the marketing efforts can be a mess and cause the brand’s reputation to nosedive. 

Snapchat once landed in hot water when they released a ‘Would You Rather” question to the users. It’s a simple way to engage with their users and increase brand connection. However, the question they asked was, “Would you rather slap Rihanna or punch Chris Brown?”

The outrage was instant. Rihanna and Chris Brown’s volatile relationship was public knowledge and users began to criticize Snapchat over its poor marketing. Rihanna herself tweeted against them and her followers also uninstalled Snapchat. The company tried to apologize to the popstar but she was in no mood to forgive a brand which mocked victims of domestic violence.

What happened next? The company reported a loss of 1 billion USD as a result of this campaign. Stock fell by 4% and Rihanna’s fans hounded the company with hate messages.


There are many reasons why a brand may fail. Even though a lot of the factors are unpredictable, a proper marketing strategy, research, trial and error methods, and maintaining the promises on all platforms will reduce the risk of brand failure. While these are challenging tasks, brands will have to continuously adapt to the consumers’ tastes and keep up with the changing times to ensure their brand does not fail at any stage.

At Notionhive, we implement proper methods for the brands to keep communication consistent, true, and trustworthy so that your consumers purchase your brand.

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