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  • Writer's pictureDemelza Leonard

How a lack of branding distinction gave the wrong company $2.3 billion dollars in free Advertising

Game of Thrones is arguably the most popular show in TV history.

Its Season 8 premiere saw the #Gameofthrones hashtag used over 4 million times in the space of 48 hours. It has seen brands such as Spotify, Dominos Pizza and even Sesame Street have jumped on the bandwagon to gain reach and popularity from the HBO show’s success.

But what happens when your product is mistakenly featured in a popular show and consensus believes it to be your competitors?

In a recent episode “The Last of the Starks”, a shot of Daenerys Targaryen, played by Emilia Clarke, revealed a cup of takeaway coffee. The beverage held in a craft coffee cup (which has since been edited out) was from a coffee chain in Belfast where the show was filmed. However, many believed the coffee cup was from Starbucks given the shape, colour and similar logo on the cup.

This was a huge win for the global coffee chain, with the franchise estimated to have earned over $2.3 billion in free advertising from the gaffe.

And whilst this proved beneficial for Starbucks, somewhere there is a Belfast coffee chain that has lost out on $2.3 billion worth of advertising and notoriety because their packaging was not distinctive enough.

When it comes to product packaging, the distinction is something that shouldn’t be overlooked. Even if your product is not that different (in this case coffee) something as simple as a bold and easily identifiable logo or a more distinctive coffee cup design would have worked to the Belfast business’ advantage.

It’s highly likely that this Belfast business will still gain some sort of attention and publicity but not nearly as close to the $2.3 billion that its global competitor has earned to date.

This is something that occurs all too often and it can cost your business and brand considerably. Whilst this situation was the case of a blooper, it’s a possibility that this could easily happen in daily life with the public mistaking your brand for that of your competitor’s.

So what can you do to make sure this is avoidable?

Sit back and take a look at your brand.

Does it have elements of your brand that is easily recognisable should it go viral?

If your brand features product packaging this is a major element to consider. After all, this is the home of your product and one that will help new and regular customers reach for your items on the shelves as opposed to your competitors.

Without a strong distinct asset, which clearly defines your brand and potentially has similar traits to others within your industry, you are running the risk of driving that customer to their brand instead of yours.

Remember, recognition combined with loyalty towards your brand is going to result in profit for YOU. The more distinct and unique a brand looks, the more identifiable it is within that industry and the easier it to earn loyalty from customers.

In this case of the non-Starbucks coffee cup, people loyal to the brand instantly thought it was their favourite caffeinated beverage. It gained over 193,000 mentions in 24 hours. But if its cup packaging had a design or something that just made it look that little bit different, Starbucks would not have even been considered.

Packaging isn’t the only time that this can lead to potential clients and customers favouring your competitors.

This is something that happens all too often in Social Media when posts and images are reposted but there is no real distinct branding to know where the original source has come from. And let’s face it, not everyone will credit the original source.

Is this then potentially brand awareness and publicity that you might be missing out on because your brand assets are not different enough? Consider the following for Social Media to give your brand a distinct identity head start and protect yourself from a mistaken identity shock of “Red Wedding” proportions.

  1. Consider the overall brand and business vision.

  2. Consider a unique colour palette that relates to you or your brand’s personality or identity.

  3. Think beyond trends – this will give longevity to your brand and its recognition.

  4. Create your own content and photos and avoid the stock imagery as often as possible.

  5. Find your own voice and tribe and not align with someone else’s.

  6. Create your own quotes

These tips alone don’t make fully distinct brand identity and you should speak to a branding expert to ensure that you create something that will be unique to your industry yet cohesive across all of your promotional tools and assets. They will also ensure that your branding remains true to the overall vision of your business.

By doing these few steps, talking to a specialist and being aware of its importance you are ensuring that your competitors aren’t reaping the benefits that rightfully belong to you and secure your place on your Iron Throne.

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