3 Examples Of Consumer Brand Destruction

We don't have to go into too much detail to illustrate why a company lauded for being fresher and healthier than the alternatives hurt its brand by actually being far more dangerous! The key difference between Chipotle and e.coli outbreaks at Jack In The Box or Taco Bell, is that those companies didn't bank heavily on being the "fresh and healthy" option.

Chipotle went into damage control mode, but never truly recovered. Customers continued to be put off by its snarky closure notices, delayed and half-hearted public apologies, and worst of all, continued health issues. Despite profusely committing to "lead the way" in food safety, Chipotle continues to experience health issues, including another norovirus outbreak in July 2017.

So, the lesson here is "don't forget the basics"! In mass restauranteering, safety has to be of the utmost concern - even over local sourcing, anti-biotic free chicken, and so forth. At this point, it is unlikely that Chipotle will ever regain its former appeal with customers.

General Jack-assery: Uber

There are few better indications of a powerful brand than said brand being co-opted into a new verb for the English language.

Think about it. You know what it means to "Google" something. How many times have you asked someone for a "Kleenex", instead of a tissue? When your lips are dry and cracked, I bet you probably think "I need Chapstick", not lip balm. Is there even a generic term for Q-tips?!

It is a testament to the power and consumer acceptance of the brand that "Uber" was (and to a lesser extent, still is) today. Everyone knows what it means to "Uber home", or "get an Uber there". Just a few years ago, "Uber" and "ride share" were practically synonymous - the company held over 90% market share in the U.S.!

That is a massive lead, one that is almost insurmountable for competitors to overcome in the short term. All Uber had to do was keep expanding and improving its convenient service and pleasing customers.

Today, its market share has fallen to less than 2/3rds (66%). There are some indications that its private market capitalization has fallen from a high of near $70 billion to a recent bid indication closer to $40 billion - a 43% drop and a dreaded "down round" of funding looming.

What happened?

As with the other 2 examples, Uber's brand tarnishing is a case of management mistakes - in this case, a mounting history of them. The company's M.O., formed by founder Travis Kalanick, was always to test the boundaries of legal constraints and existing regulations. While this was effective in expanding the business, this kind of culture inevitably goes too far. Uber implemented notorious business practices, like booking cars on competitors apps and then canceling last-minute or using the ride to convince drivers to switch. It wrote software programs that thwarted government regulators and stole competitor's data and trade secrets.

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Disclosure: Steve ...

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