Branding Fail: Not Learning A Brand’s Identity

The latest regional branding gaffs do not make our kind look very bright. Last week started off with some laughable designs that were proposed for a re-branding of Port Hope, Ontario. Have you taken 2 minutes to poke fun of the designs yet? Apologies if you’re a fan of the Comic Sans typeface and kindergarten-style backwards letters.

If the Port Hope re-branding debacle wasn’t bad enough to start the year off for our industry, we get smacked with another fail. The “Our Voice, Our Hamilton” campaign that was launched to evaluate Hamilton residents’ views about civic services flopped in both design and social media. The PR firm who created the campaign used photos of another city’s courthouse, another Hamilton’s promotional t-shirts, among other clear disconnections.

Whoever Dialogue Partners hired to run their @ourhamilton Twitter account wasn’t well versed with Hamilton’s lingo, and obviously couldn’t take two seconds to Google local acronyms and places. I lived in Hamilton for a short time, and it is not a city you want to screw up a social media campaign in. Hamiltonians are highly engaged with social media and they are very proud of their city. Their social media blunders raises an important point about understanding the social and cultural idiosyncrasies of a brand. All brands have a voice, a type of language they use that makes up who they are. When PR firms do not take the time to learn the voice of the brand they represent they make everyone in the community feel foolish. Certainly the city Councillors who hired the firm slapped their foreheads in dismay; and the Hamiltonians who engaged with the campaigns felt sharp stings from the metaphorical slaps in their faces.

There are no excuses for such branding quaffs. Is doing proper research and assessment of the brand you are going to represent is too much to ask for? Do you think these incidents discredit our profession or do they represent just another day in the trenches? We would love to read your thoughts in the comments section.

Nancy Huynh

Nancy Huynh

Nancy graduated from Queen’s University (B.Com) and co-founded Young Urban Farmers Ltd (YUF) in 2008 with two other Queen’s graduates. YUF is now a thriving business in its 4th season. Her areas of interests are social media; food culture; real estate; and urban geography, which she has conducted graduate-level research on. When she’s not researching, she is tweeting as @soda_ninja on whatever she finds intriguing.

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