7 Deadly Sins that Create Zombie Brands

24 Oct 2014
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Tori Tasch

With Halloween around the corner, there’s no better time to take a look at what makes a dreadful, zombie brand. Sure, the traditional principles of brand foundation and development are great starting points for the creation and growth of a successful brand. But in a sea of smart competitors and new players, changing consumer tastes and revolutionary technology, there’s simply no way every idea or brand can succeed. Capitalism was literally built around that principle.

Though a tad intimidating, that powerful notion provides an empowering opportunity to learn from brand failures. Use these seven deadly brand sins as guidelines for what not to do, and keep your brand from becoming the walking dead:


1. A brand’s future lies in the hands of culture. Failing to read future trends or ignoring the signals consumers are sending about their needs will surely kill a brand.


2. Brands often feel a false sense of security when they’re in the lead. They get comfortable with their position in the market, become stale and immobile and let growth opportunities pass them by.


3. Countless brands naïvely think they are irreplaceable, not anticipating competitors with a capacity to knock them down.


4. Brands frequently flop by trying to be everything to everyone. When reinventing, it’s essential to stay true to the brand purpose to ensure messaging is authentic and differentiated from competitors.


5. Times change and scandals happen, but responding in a timely, transparent and appropriate manner can shift the tone of the conversation from failure to grace.


6. Success requires bravery. Brands that fail are often too scared to break their norm and pursue a risky yet innovative venture.


7. Perhaps the quickest route to brand death is a result of lower quality products than competitors, causing an inability to maintain relevance.

Is your brand guilty of one of these seven deadly sins? You still have time to change your costume: be a leader—not a zombie—this Halloween!

Tori Tasch is an LPK strategist by day, and autism advocate by night. With experience in project management and advertising (plus a huge amount of creative envy), she believes in solving problems through a combination of smart insights, tiny details and big-picture ideas. If you’d like to instantly make a new friend, bring her bourbon and buffalo chicken wings. Follow @toritasch on Twitter for various musings on strategy and life.