When a disaster threatens your brand value
It’s almost an unimaginable coincidence: A crown — corona — is a rather well chosen name for a premium beer, coincides with the name of a devastating agent of disease in reference to the shape of the bugger. How is the brand affected?
From a marketing perspective this is a nightmare. Think of search engines: over a year ago people searching for Corona were looking fire a liquor store; today they want the latest death toll.
It’s not the first time this has happened. The American brand Ayds Chocolate was caught off guard by the AIDS epidemic of the 1980s. But at least the spelling was different.
How do you cope with that? What instructions do you give your marketing department?
The most radical and impractical way is to change your name. This is feasible for a product, but not for a brand like Corona.
Another way is a suffix. Impress it in your clients. Corona for example has started to refer to “Corona beer”. Ayds chocolate changed its name to Diet Ayds but that didn’t work either and the company went out of business.
Introduce a slogan. Corona has been trying out a few already including “the wonder with the lemon”
Localise. The conflict may not exist in certain languages.
Embrace the disaster. This is not feasible with Corona because the situation is too dire. But when over a decade ago red bull was denounced of containing cocaine the company made sure the world knew about it and sales rose.
Consistently watch your trademark for potential threats to its integrity stemming from both other businesses and cultural conflicts. Act quickly to change your brand name if need be!
Double check your brand name candidates for alternative meanings in other languages and cultures!
The African Pee Cola sounded great in the local language, where pee means very good. In English, not so much.
The best-case scenario: Choosing an unfortunate brand name may cause a few laughs.
The worst-case scenario: Choosing an unfortunate brand name may annihilate your company.
Of course a situation like Corona is very rare. The most amazing coincidence is that the last time it also affected a drink ( from “sarsaparilla”, a root beer and a coronavirus from China.
Curiously enough, the wonder with the lemon survived the first years of the worst pandemic for a hundred years with little more than a dip in the stock price of owner Grupo Modelo.