When big brands attack

Just because some suits makes an exorbitant six-figure salary does not mean he or she is blessed with genius. That is a lesson that can be taken to heart by looking at some of the real failures in branding during 2011.

It was not the best of years for companies such as Bank of America, Abercrombie & Fitch or that good old American symbol of prosperity itself, Wall Street. These are among the “Top 10 Brand Disasters of 2011” which were compiled by top sales blogger James Geoffrey in his daily column for Inc.com. Geoffrey has previously included “brands” as diverse as “Islam” and “Obama.” For 2011, he’s focused on big corporate brands because “there were so many hilarious debacles to choose from,” he explains.

Geoffrey recounts some of the strange ways corporate American puffs their chests only to have a deflation quicker than an air mattress at a porcupine convention. With biting humor, Geoffrey looks back at Bank of America’s great “$5 failure” in which the already overexposed company faced a nationwide customer exile due to their badly-proposed $5 debit card fee.

“After all, to banking execs, a fiver is just small change. Who would complain?” Geoffrey muses.

Other branding nightmares includes Abercrombie & Fitch’s not-so-bright idea to market a padded bra for pre-teen girls, something parents surely wouldn’t object to, would they? Or take for instance, Family Radio. The evangelical broadcasting giant’s CEO Harold Camping predicted that the world would end on May 21, 2011. It didn’t, obviously. Too bad some listeners took his word and sold all their worldly goods. Not the best way to plan for the future.

Even Wall Street itself needs a lesson in branding.

“Profits were high, bonuses were higher, regulations were weak and likely to get weaker. Having successfully managed to privatize its gains and socialize its losses, Wall Street was beginning to reposition itself as the engine of American prosperity (as opposed to small business,)” writes Geoffrey.

Then there was that small “Occupy” thing.

Geoffrey, whose recently-published book “How to Say It: Business to Business Selling,” (Prentice Hall, 2011), “features the best techniques from a dozen top sales gurus, packaged into a one-day read for novice sales reps” takes a very humorous look his Inc.com piece on what happens when big brands attack.