How To Make Your Branding Fail, Lululemon Style

How To Make Your Branding Fail, Lululemon Style

Don’t do what Lululemon did.

How To Make Your Branding Fail Lululemon StyleBranding isn’t just about your logo… you have probably heard us say it dozens of times. Branding is the image of your company in the eye of the public. We have talked a lot about how to build a successful brand, but we wanted to take a moment to talk about where successful brands go to die.

If you are into yoga, you may have heard of Lululemon yoga pants. They are a thing. A big thing. Lululemon hit the news recently when customers began complaining that after some use, their yoga pants became see-through. Yikes! Without a doubt, it was a PR conundrum. Founder of Lululemon Chip Wilson attempted to control the damage by standing by his defective product, saying that “some women’s bodies just actually don’t work” and “it’s about rubbing through the thighs.”

Do we all agree that he went from bad to worse right there? Did he just call his customers fat?

His remarks enraged faithful Lululemon brand advocates. Lululemon yoga pants run right around $100 each. Lululemon’s target market has a wide variety of more affordable options, but when they purchase Lululemon yoga pants, they are paying for the label. After his comments, one woman said that Wilson had “fat-shamed” his customers, while countless others were insulted by his remarks.

Wilson entered crisis communications mode and issued a public apology on YouTube. Kind of. He said in his tearful video that he was “sad for the repercussions” of his actions and asked that his faithful customers “stay in a conversation that is above the fray.” Hm.

How To Make Your Branding Fail

Okay, so now you’ve got the Lululemon story. Now let’s look at some of the branding problems here. Since this branding fiasco started, 82% of tweets about Lululemon have been negative. How did they go from having a large group of loyal brand advocates to having so much negative feedback on the internet? Chip Wilson and gang has done it in three steps, and we wanted to share our thoughts on each one.

1. Have a defective product.

We all know that sometimes business doesn’t go perfectly. If you have been in business for years, you may slip up. This isn’t the worst thing you can do. If you find yourself in a situation where you have a defective product or service, don’t panic. Often times, it can be turned into an opportunity to show your customers how much you value their business. Consider replacing the product or re-doing the service at no cost. Good customer service is a vital start to healthy branding.

2. Stand by that product instead of apologizing and replacing it.

When a customer says, “Hey, this product or service didn’t work out,” you should think about listening. If you don’t, know that you will have an angry former customer on your hands. Whenever their friends are talking about purchasing a product or service that is in your industry, you’d better believe your name will come up… and not in the friendly, “I would definitely recommend them” kind of way. Again, look at this as a chance to prove what your business is really all about.

3. Insult the people who buy your product and blame them for the product’s failure.

It kind of goes back to that whole thing, “Don’t bite the hand that feeds you.” Loyal brand advocates are the best kind of customers you have. You will want to keep them, even if that means replacing a product or service every now and again.

Have questions about your brand? Ask away. We would love to help.

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Carolyn Byard