Corporate Eye

Brands that Made Headlines in 2008

Which brands were in the news in 2008?  I thought I’d put together a review of newsworthy brands (good and bad) by writing down the first 10 brands that popped into my head that made headlines in 2008.  Here we go…

1. Apple

Apple could do no wrong in 2008.  The iPhone, iPod, iTunes, new Macbooks, a laptop that fits in a manilla envelope – you name it, Apple has been hot in recent years, and 2008 was not an exception.  If there is an easier way to do something (and a prettier way), Apple will find it.  Apple is the perfect example of a thriving relationship brand that moved from cult status to actually steal some market share from the market leader, Microsoft, who has actually stooped to trying to counterattack Apple with ads that leave much to be desired.  Will Apple remain as popular in 2009?  We’ll have to wait and see, but I can’t imagine the love story will end anytime soon.

2. GM, Chrysler, Dodge

U.S. auto manufacturers are desperately seeking a bailout to make all the faulty decisions made at the executive level in the past decade go away.  The question is whether they’ll change their ways if a bailout or some other form of government help comes there way.   It seems doubtful.

3. Starbucks

Starbucks struggled to remain relevant in 2008 as the economy took a drastic downturn and loyal customers found themselves without the cash flow to afford a $6 cup of coffee.  Starbucks has been struggling with its branding, and it’s hard to say if the company can turn things around in 2009.

4. Google

Google is slowly taking over the world.  New applications, including the Google Android T-Mobile G1 phone, position Google to continue its takeover in 2009 with no major threats from competitors in sight.

5. AIG and the Bailout Crew

I’m lumping together all the financial companies in the U.S. who needed the government to bail them out as a result of their own greediness.  By extending loans to people who really couldn’t afford them for many years, the writing was on the wall.  It had to all come crashing down one day, and 2008 was it.  Unfortunately, the effects of those questionable lending strategies were (and continue to be) very far reaching.  AIG and the Bailout Crew (yes, it sounds like the name of a hardened rock band) seemed to come out of the crisis better than anyone else, particularly consumers.

6. Walmart

Recession = less discretionary income, which = bargain shopping, which = big profits for Walmart!

7. Toyota

As gas prices soared, Prius sales grew, and so did positive impressions of the Toyota brand which came to represent environmental-consciousness, innovation and quality all rolled into one.  All of this was happening when U.S. car manufacturers were still putting Hummers and Cadillac Escalades on their dealers’ lots.

8. Nintendo

Guitar Hero, Wii, Nintendo DS, the list goes on and on of hot products with the Nintendo brand name on them that consumers were talking about in 2008. 

9. Twitter

Twitter started in 2006 as a new microblogging concept, which grew quickly.  By early 2008, the number of Twitter users skyrocketed to over 1 million (statistic via TechCrunch), and it continues to grow even faster.  Competitors have come and gone (e.g., Pownce closed shop this month), but Twitter keeps getting bigger.  Twitter has become a strong brand with a strong community, and it will be interesting to see what’s next for the brand.

10. Yahoo!

Is Microsoft going to buy Yahoo?  No.  Wait, yes, Microsoft is going to buy Yahoo.  No, wait, now they aren’t.  Wait a minute, yes, Microsoft is going to buy Yahoo.  No, hold on.  Microsoft is not going to buy Yahoo.  2008 will be the year remembered with the question, “What’s going to happen to Yahoo?”

Now it’s your turn.  What brands that made headlines in 2008 impacted you – positively or negatively?

Image: Flickr

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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+.