When a Brand Becomes a Joke

Branding blunders happen, right? However, you don’t want them happening in your brand. Branding blunders can backfire, like DiGiorno learned when it tried humor while tweeting a hashtag addressing domestic violence.

Not all mistakes are as uncomfortably disastrous. Some are outright funny while still providing valuable lessons for creating a well-crafted brand. Fortunately, you don’t have to learn this lesson the hard way. We are here to help you avoid these embarrassing gaffes. Here are 7 of the Funniest Branding Mistakes (in our opinion).


01. Esurance “cover your home in a …

Font selection matters. This includes font spacing, or “kerning.” Especially when text might be read from a distance, as Esurance learned with its “cover your home in a click” billboard. We’re fairly certain that Esurance didn’t intend the other message.

02. Touch Woody

Here’s another lesson in translation, this one in English. In 1996, Panasonic developed a touch-screen computer. That’s more than 20 years ago – when many of us were just getting our first email account. The feature – named after Woody Woodpecker – was dubbed “Touch Woody.” This one hurts: a product more than a decade ahead of everyone else, killed by an American middle-school sexual innuendo.

03. Original Trump / Pence campaign logo

Perhaps this is a lesson in knowing your audience. A well-crafted brand considers how it might be received or even modified in the public realm. Especially when you are highly confrontational and a touchpoint for intense rebuttal and scrutiny. The original T/P logo inspired a slew of mockery through gifs and other user-modified logos.

04. La Redoute and The Naked Man

The idea of proofreading applies to photographs. Do you really want naked men in the background of your campaign for a brand of children’s clothing? We didn’t think so.

05. Happy to Sit… Where?

The humor on this billboard for sunglasses was quite intentional. The mistake? Underestimating the joke’s reception by consumers. Humor and parody can work in a well-crafted brand, but the audience, location and visibility of the joke become important. Not every joke should be broadcast to the public from a billboard.

06. What kind of homesite?

Proofread and spellcheck. That’s really all we can say. If you need help, Copy For The People and our Master Wordsmiths are here for you.

07. Jackpot of Logo Failures

We found this list of logos that really speak for themselves. Instead of picking one, we’ve decided to share the entire list of funny design failures compiled by the folks over at Digital Synopsis. Remember: a shoestring budget rarely (if ever) results in a well-crafted brand. Involve someone outside your inner circle and hire someone to take a candid, fresh look at your branding. This will help ensure that your logo doesn’t become the next internet meme.

We hope you’ve enjoyed some of the funniest branding blunders and gained a few insights into the value of a well-crafted brand. Humor can be an asset, but mistakes – even funny ones – can have disastrous (and expensive) consequences.

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