Corporate Eye

5 Lessons to Learn from Brand Mistakes in 2010

Unfortunately, a number of big brands made some big mistakes in 2010.  With each mistake that makes the news, there are things marketers and brand managers can learn and apply to their own initiatives.

Instead of focusing on the negatives of 2010, let’s take a look at five of the biggest lessons we can learn from some of the biggest mistakes brands made in 2010.  Keep in mind, the lessons to learn may or may not reflect the company’s actual response in each of the examples below.

1. BP

Who could forget the biggest environmental disaster in the United States during 2010 — the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.  The lesson to learn from BP’s mistake is this: be vigilant, move quickly, be honest, and ask for help.

2. Toyota

Toyota’s brand reputation had never been better until a series of recalls in 2010 tarnished it.  The lesson to learn from Toyota’s mistake is this: admit your mistakes and go above and beyond to fix them.

3. Facebook

Facebook continues to grow in popularity despite being called out numerous times for violating users’ privacy.  The lesson to learn from Facebook’s mistake is this: ignoring a problem and thinking you’re too big and great to care might work for a while, but it is not a strategy that will work in the long term.

4. Apple

Apple’s iPhone 4 was released with much buzz but problems ensued — something the brand hadn’t needed to contend with in the past.  The lesson to learn from Apple’s mistake is this: the good times can only last for so long and denial only makes those mistakes look bigger when stories travel across the Web so quickly these days.

5. Google

Google Buzz was touted as a new way to start conversations about the things people find interesting within Gmail, but it did not live up to the hype.  The lesson to learn from Google’s mistake is this: no matter how big you are, sometimes people like what they’re already using more than they might like you.  Your product has to be better because they won’t just switch for your name.

What do you think were some of the biggest lessons to learn from brand mistakes in 2010?  Leave a comment and share your thoughts.

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Susan Gunelius is the author of 10 marketing, social media, branding, copywriting, and technology books, and she is President & CEO of KeySplash Creative, Inc., a marketing communications company. She also owns Women on Business, an award-wining blog for business women. She is a featured columnist for and, and her marketing-related articles have appeared on websites such as,,, and more. She has over 20 years of experience in the marketing field having spent the first decade of her career directing marketing programs for some of the largest companies in the world, including divisions of AT&T and HSBC. Today, her clients include large and small companies around the world and household brands like Citigroup, Cox Communications, Intuit, and more. Susan is frequently interviewed about marketing and branding by television, radio, print, and online media organizations, and she speaks about these topics at events around the world. You can connect with her on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, or Google+.