Why Do Brands Fail?

Why Do Brands Fail?

The cost of brand failure is high, often to the tune of millions—even billions—of dollars. Brands can fail for many reasons, but one big one is that they were not built to compete in the new economy. New brands are hatched and sent forth into the marketplace every day. Most of them will fail within a year or two, sometimes within months. And each year, a certain number of known and established 20th-century brands will die. At the time of death, many of them will still have brand awareness and even decent market share, but they are no longer connected to the 21st-century customer, whose contract demands an emotional bond.

Let’s take a look at how 20th-century brand strategy compares to 21st-century brand strategy.


• Vision: Making money
• Business Model: Reinforce familiar ideas
• Customer’s Profile: Demographics
• Sales: Push marketing models
• Profits: Familiar revenue streams


• Vision: Making the world a better place
• Business Model: Innovation and differentiation
• Customer Profile: Psychographics
• Sales: Pull-through models, personalization and customizing
• Profits: Multiple revenue streams

Often, strategists in business, marketing, and branding are looking back, instead of looking ahead. They waste time imitating what has been done before, instead of innovating and differentiating. Instead of investing time, thought, and money in a forward-looking master brand strategy, instead of creating authenticity, originality, and reality, and instead of investing long-term in inventive product design, technologies, and service touchpoints that benefit their customers and society at large, they rely on the past as something to repeat. If it’s already been done, don’t do it. Do something else. And design that something else to appeal to today’s customer, not yesterday’s.

Markets evolve over time. Brands come and go. But in the long-run, authenticity always wins. And for authentic brands, the potential is limitless. To succeed in the new economy, a brand must connect with the customer’s heart, gut, and mind. Modern brand-building is at once an art and a science. It is a process that fuses creative spark with technical know-how, each in the right proportion.

This post initiates a series of posts where we will be looking at a number of different reasons why brands fail, while examining active solutions that ensure the long-term success of authentic brands.

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Want more insights like these to help you design a successful, powerful brand? Grab your copy of Authentic Branding: How to Inspire Each Customer’s Mind and Heart by Howard Lim.