Negative brand stories


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If you believe storytelling is a powerful tool of communication and you have never
thought of impact of negative brand stories then, you may find this research interesting.

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Negative brand stories

  1. 1. Copyright Brunel University
  2. 2. Copyright Brunel University
  3. 3. Copyright Brunel University If “stories build belief, belief builds brands, and brands build business”, then negative stories also build belief, belief which harms brands, and brands lose business.
  4. 4. Copyright Brunel University STORYstory for “Where’s the beef?” Case Study
  5. 5. Copyright Brunel University LOSSES: More Than $8,900,000.00 ($8.9 Million) “Where’s the beef?” Case Study
  6. 6. Copyright Brunel University STORYStory? for Chicken cruelty (PETA allegations)
  7. 7. Copyright Brunel University Heavy losses incurred by brands against negative stories. $5.55 Billion $21 Million $8.9 Million Millions of pounds (Business pundit, 2011.)
  8. 8. Copyright Brunel University Research Problem: Brands caught in negative story traps. Research Question: How design can help brands to overcome negative stories?
  9. 9. Copyright Brunel University AIM: To propose brand management strategies by utilising design thinking to help brands to overcome negative stories.
  10. 10. Copyright Brunel University Objectives: • To review communication between brands and consumers through stories. • To critically examine successful brand stories. • To identify the reasons of negative brand stories. •To find out experts’ opinion on negative brand stories. • To propose management strategies to help brands to overcome negative stories.
  11. 11. Copyright Brunel University METHODOLOGY: Background Research Extensive Exploration Analysing Validation (Motivation and Defining of AIM) (Consumer Behaviour and Expert Opinion) (Reasons and Impact of Negative Stories) (Evaluation of recommendation)Brand stories, Storytelling, and Types To understand consumer psychology To analyse every possible cause and How impactful recommended of Stories and Role of Design solution strategies will be in real brand world? Literature Review Story-boarding Interviews (Books, Articles/Journals, On-line Discussions (Graphical presentation of (To get expert suggestions) Internet) (On group, Brand & problems and findings) Focus Group Case Studies Communications management) Observation (An experiment and discussion(Coca-Cola, BP, Apple, KFC, etc.) Focus Group (Comparative case studies) with group of six Branding Guest Lectures (To get consumer reactions) Expert Opinion Strategy students) (How to use stories in Interviews (Interviews and on-line presentations and its impact) (Through e-mails, phone and in discussion) person) Re-craft Recommendations SurveyResearch Problem, AIM and (Online – 108 feedback) Types of Negative Stories Objectives Literature Review (Books, Articles/Journals) Conclusion and Future Reasons of Negative Stories Prospects of Research Brand Management Strategic RECOMMENDATIONS Findings and Discussion
  12. 12. Copyright Brunel University Case Studies Brand Industry Story Apple Electronics Successful and classic example of brand storytelling Coca-Cola Beverage Market leader and well connected with consumer even after having lot of negative stories. British Petroleum Oil and gas Struggling with major negative stories. McDonald’s Food Had faced many negative stories in the past and managed to overcome them. Taco Bell Food Recently has faced big negative story. Nike Footwear and clothing Was trapped in major negative story and came out as a market leader. Nestle Food Many negative stories came but didn’t effect it as a brand. LG Electronics Never had powerful brand story and never faced major negative story. KFC Food Badly trapped in negative stories and still struggling to get rid of them. Dominos Food Had faced one of the worst on-line negative stories. Innocent Beverage One of the best successful brand stories. Disney Entertainment Heritage brand story. Ted Baker Clothing Unreal but successful brand story. SBI Life Insurance Banking and Insurance Used storytelling as major branding tool. Tiger Woods Celebrity Brand died because of negative story. Ford Edsel Automobile Failed brand story.
  13. 13. Copyright Brunel University Reasons of Negative Brand stories Lack of Awareness  False Promises  Increasing Competition  Rise of Social Media Findings
  14. 14. Copyright Brunel University Role of Design in Brand stories Stories = Brand message Design = Brand Character/Image Findings (Benetton group, 2011.)
  15. 15. Copyright Brunel University Types of Brand Stories BRAND STORIES 1) BRAND FACE STORIES 2) BRAND VALUES STORIES 3) NEGATIVE BRAND STORIES Heritage • Commercial • Emerge Origin • Created • Unfavourable Original • Brand message Example: KFC – Chicken Constant • Evolving cruelty, PETA Allegations Example: Disney – Ideal Example: Coca-cola spreads (PETA, 2011) American Community happiness (Bensen, 2011) (Mathews, and Wacker, 2008) Findings
  16. 16. On-line Survey to know consumer beliefs 108 feedback
  17. 17. Copyright Brunel University Analysing consumer behaviour  Most Loved  Most Hated 65% 10% People like to say what they ‘LIKE’ Findings
  18. 18. Copyright Brunel University Analysing consumer behaviour 75 positive stories 64 Negative stories  Product Satisfaction  Misleading  Value for money  Poor Value for money  Style and Design  Bad Design  User-friendly  complicated  Experience  Poor customer service  Trust  Bad quality  Exclusive  Copied Ideas People like to say what they ‘LIKE’ Findings
  19. 19. Copyright Brunel University Analysing consumer behaviour Love Product Service Hate Findings
  20. 20. Copyright Brunel University Conclusions  Every brand must have unique brand story to emotionally bond to the consumers.  Good Design leads to successful story.  Service Brands are more prone to negative stories than Product Brands.  People talk about positive thing more than negative stories.  Negative brand stories are as impactful as positive.
  21. 21. Copyright Brunel University Recommendations  Emotional bonding between brand and its consumers through stories can shield the brand against negative stories.  Brands must narrate their stories repetitively to keep their message alive.  Only a counter story can save the brand against negative story. This counter story should a new improved version of brand’s original story.  Brand stories should be appropriately Designed for its message.
  22. 22. Copyright Brunel University Recommendations  Brands should not deny or ignore the negative stories even if those are false.  Brand stories need to be evolved with the time keeping the original message alive.  Brand itself need to be evolved with every negative story.  Never tell a story which Brand can not live up to.  keep regular check on negative stories.  Engage consumers in Brand Stories.
  23. 23. Copyright Brunel University Recommendations Brand management strategies to overcome negative stories. Problem Cause / Impact Counter-Story Through channels - Negative Stories - Caused by Individual - Loud, clear and - Press release / Competitor / straight forward - True or False Misfortune / Mistake - Social media ‘SHOUT-OUT-LOUD’ - As quickly as - Micro / macro - TV and newspapers - What loss to be Possible expected in what - More the better time? - Tactical and - Press release emotional - As minimum as - Well planned with possible because ‘PLAN-a-SILENT’ time brands wouldn’t like this story to be visible for long.
  24. 24. Copyright Brunel University He was a thief, then what? He is Hero. Because he had reason for everything. Brands can be like Robin Hood if they give good reason. (
  25. 25. Copyright Brunel University ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS Many people have inspired, helped and motivated me over the different periods of time during this research. My first thank is for my family and friends for endless love and support. Special thanks to my supervisor John Boult for correcting me at every step and for helping me in moulding this research with lot of creativity. This research would have never been like this without his guidance and extreme knowledge. I would like to express my gratitude to all my tutors, Chris Holt, Dr. Busayawan Lam, Youngok Choi and Dr. Ray Holland for sharing their knowledge and providing us with the understanding of design and branding. Every lecture and tutorial I attended in Brunel will be helpful throughout my life. I can never be less thankful to all my focus group, survey and online discussion participants. Your efforts and suggestions are main pillars of this research. Last but not the least I want thank to my interviewees for their valuable time and opinions. All your ideas and suggestions have not only added practical substance in this research but also made this research more useful and effective. - Ashima Amar
  26. 26. References:Books:Campell, C., and Simpson, J., 2010. Brand Narrative: How story gives meaning to marketing. Seabrightblishing: California.Haig, M. 2003. Brand failures : the truth about the 100 biggest branding mistakes of all time. London:Kogan Page.Laurel, B. 2003. Design Research methods and perspectives. London: The MIT press.Margolis, M. 2009. Believe me a story telling manifesto for change makers and innovators. New York:Get storied press.PETA, 2011. PETAs Campaign Against KFC. [online] Available at:[Accessed 1 March 2011].Vincent, L. 2002. Legendary brands : unleashing the power of storytelling to create a winningmarketing strategy. Chicago: Dearbon Trade Pub.Wurman, R. S., 2001. Information anxiety 2. 2nd ed. Indiana: Que.Articles:Thomson, M., 2004. The power of a good brand story. [online] Available at: [Accessed 12 May 2011].
  27. 27. References:Journal:Woodside, A. G. Sood, S. Miller, K. E., 2008. When Consumers and Brands Talk: Storytelling Theory andResearch in Psychology and Marketing. Psychology & Marketing, Vol. 25(2): 97–145Adaval, R., & Wyer, R. S. (1998). The role of narratives in consumer information processing. Journal ofConsumer Psychology, 3, 207–245.Websites:Innocent, 2011. Our Story: The untold truth. [online] Available at: [Accessed 3 June 2011].Margolis, M., 2007. Definition: What is Brand Storytelling? [online] Available at: [Accessed 1 June 2011].PETA, 2011. PETAs Campaign Against KFC. [online] Available at:[Accessed 1 March 2011].Travelers digest, 2009. Easy Jet Advisory. [online] Available at: [Accessed 3 August 2011].Word press, 2011. Prediction: The BP Brand Won’t Survive « Building Strong Brands. [online]Available at: [Accessed 16 August 2011].