The Whopper of all Branding Mistakes: 3 Pitfalls to Avoid



Your brand is the face of your company, and if you’re a global company, brand consistency is both challenging and vital. In the age of information abundance, consistent branding — through your company’s name, the strength of your logo, and your ongoing communications with customers — should be designed to trigger a specific and consistent response from a customer. Here’s how one global business’s lack of consistency confused customers and hurt their brand.

How Burger King Failed to “Satisfry” Customers

Nowhere is the competition hotter, or branding more fierce, than the flame-broiled grills of America’s fast food chains. This makes Burger King’s latest PR campaign, to ‘rename’ itself, all the more baffling. Since slipping to become the No. 3 fast food chain (Wendy’s took the No. 2 spot from BK last year), Burger King has abandoned the burger — its namesake product — for its starchier sister: the fry.

After releasing the French Fry Burger and the new Satisfries, it took the fry-fixation one step too far, pretending to change its name to “Fries King.”


Burger King’s website displayed a redone company logo: a pouch of fries replaced the familiar, stylized hamburger, and the words “Fries King” appeared over the logo in place of “Burger King.” Below the logo was the clincher: “Formerly Burger King.” They took to social media, posting reams of photos to Facebook and Twitter, unveiling the new corporate logo.

The mixed reactions to Burger King’s campaign provide three important lessons to marketers — especially those striving to maintain consistent global brands:

1. Don’t confuse the customer.

While we normally applaud creative social marketing, don’t sacrifice clarity. If the company’s Twitter followers responses are any indication (example: “Can’t tell if it’s true or not, but did Burger King really change their name to Fries King…? I don’t … what.”), they confused most consumers who they reached with their campaign. A tongue-in-cheek campaign is one thing, a puzzling communication with no punch-line is another.

fries king twitter

2. Don’t abandon your heritage.

Burger King has always been about, well, the burger. Whether it was their “Home of the Whopper” ads, the “Have it Your Way” Campaign of the 90s, or “Fuel the Fire” slogan to distinguish itself by its cooking method, BK’s heritage was clear: it’s the about the meat between the buns. To abandon six decades of heritage is to abandon six decades of customer loyalty and expectations.

3. Don’t disparage your core.

Worse still is the subtle message behind this campaign. It seemed to imply that the burgers of Burger King are nothing to write home about (let alone name your company after). By dethroning the “Burger” of his kingship, BK discredits its core product entirely.

So how can you avoid these whoppers? To learn more about collaborating, coordinating and maintaining brand consistency across multiple teams (especially in a global organization) , join our webinar, “Work Together Even When You’re Not Together: Marketing Collaboration in the Cloud” on Thursday, November 14th.