In 2016, Microsoft decided to release Tay, an AI chatbot on Twitter that would easily communicates with its users. While it started out fine with positive tweets, it quickly turned sour when Tay started tweeting racial and ignorant comments, some from users asking her to retweet their original tweets (a feature of Tay), and others from her own volition. Microsoft quickly learned that some serious adjustments were needed and the offensive tweets were quickly deleted, eventually taking down Tay altogether.
There are important lessons you can take from this incident, and many other similar branding mistakes made by big brands. While it might be tempting to join in on the latest hashtag or viral video trend, it’s best to tread carefully in order to avoid alienating customers or stepping over anybody’s toes.
1. Avoid branding mistakes by checking facts
Make sure that whatever you write, tweet or post is representative of your brand, as well as factually accurate. For instance, make sure you don’t impulsively jump onto a hashtag without researching what it’s about. You also want to ensure that it truly fits with your brand image. Brands can quickly alienate followers and users by misleading them or giving them false statements that don’t align with their core values.
2. Consider the reach of your brand
Your brand can be represented differently across countries and cultures. One size might not fit all across the world, and so your marketing campaigns and brand imagery will often need to be tailor made to a specific location, which is something Pepsi learned the hard way. Make sure you conduct proper research and preparation in order to avoid any embarrassment.
3. Follow your brand identity
Trends come and go, but your brand is lasting. Carefully consider a trend or a movement before relying on it for your next marketing campaign. Take them with a grain of salt and rather use them as inspiration in your campaigns. After all, relying on a quick trend might mean your brand will wither as soon as the trend does.
Want to read about more branding mistakes? Check out these examples and learn what not to do.