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5 big brand mistakes to avoid

By Fiona Ness on Tue 18 November 2014 in Topical

From putting the wrong name on an email, to losing data, errors are common in business.

The problem is, if you’re a big brand news of your mistakes spread fast. We’ve been on the lookout for big brand mistakes that could have easily been avoided. Take a look at what went wrong, the cost of their mistakes and what you can learn.

Morrisons moving Online

What went wrong? Morrisons entered the online market a staggering 14 years after was launched. Due to Morrisons late arrival to the online game they were also forced to completely change their strategy with a new focus on price and bridging the gap between top UK supermarkets and the likes of Aldi and Lidl.

The cost of their mistake? Morrisons reported a loss of £176 million which was largely put down to a lack of online presence.

How this could have been avoided? Knowing what your customers want is the key to successfully moving online. The problem Morrisons had is they waited too long and therefore were unable to compete with online offerings already available from larger supermarkets.

Goldman Sachs contractor sends bank details in error

What went wrong? An email containing confidential brokerage account information was incorrectly sent to an account rather than This error by the Goldman Sachs contractor led to Goldman Sachs suing Google to delete the account of the Gmail user who received this email.

The cost of their mistake? In this instance a monetary cost is hard to determine, however Goldman Sachs deemed this mistake worth enough to take Google to court. In addition, Google will have to deal with the breakdown in relationship of their customer whose Gmail account was deleted.

How could this have been avoided? Human error is always going to be a risk, in fact the average rekeying error rate is 1.3%, however there are ways to limit the chances of this occurring. Computers are ideal for handling simple but error prone tasks. Computerising these kinds of processes will reduce the chances of these types of problems occurring.

Levi’s terrible marketing campaign: Hotness comes in all shapes and sizes

What went wrong? The idea behind Levis ‘Hotness comes in all shapes and sizes’ campaign was to convey the message that Levis are made for all women regardless of body shape. However, the actual advert gave a very different message when only skinny models were chosen for the billboards.

The cost of their mistake? There are no figures available concerning monetary loss for the Levis campaign however their reputation must have been hit given the sheer volume of negative reviews they received. From ‘Does hotness really come in all shapes and sizes Levi’s?’ and ‘Hotness comes in skinny, skinny and skinny’.

How could this have been avoided? Marketing is all about sending the right message to the right people. In this instance Levis claimed their jeans were suitable for all shapes and sizes. However, their choice to predominantly use skinny models did not speak to people of all shapes and sizes – the average woman in the US is size 14 -16. This can easily be achieved by making use of your customer data and tailoring your marketing messages accordingly.

United Airlines show poor customer service when they break a guitar

What went wrong? David Carroll’s guitar was broken due to badly handled baggage whilst flying with United Airlines. He was then faced with a number of uninterested employees who said they could not help and finally told him that there was nothing United Airlines could do.

The cost of their mistake? After refusing to take responsibility for breaking Carroll’s guitar United Airlines shares dropped by 10%, that’s roughly $180 million.

How could this have been avoided? Taylor, the manufacturer of Carroll’s guitar sent him a replacement as a gesture of good will. The guitar was worth $3,500. If United Airlines had accepted responsibility and paid the small price to replace Carroll’s guitar they would have avoided their 10% drop in share price. 86% of customers say they will stop doing business with a company if they receive poor customer service.

M&S move their website and lose their data

What went wrong? When M&S launched their new website earlier this year they also chose to move away from their previous provider, Amazon. This also meant they were unable to bring any online customer data over to their new site. All customers were therefore forced to reregister and all account information such as purchase history, delivery information and saved payments was lost.

The cost of their mistake? Only 3 million customers reregistered for the new M&S website, that’s half the number of registrants to their previous website.

How could this have been avoided? One of the keys to successfully extending your business online is the ability to offer your customers the same service they already receive online. M&S failed to consider the impact that losing this customer data would have on the service they were offering.

It’s impossible to eliminate all potential mistakes from your business, but there are measures you can take to reduce the risk and therefore the cost.