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  • November 1, 2011

7 Big Business Strategy Flip Flops

There are times we have to make a big decision. And there are times we wish we had gone in the opposite direction.

It’s no different for businesses that have to respond to constant changes in the market with bold, decisive action. But, in many cases, a business might find it’s better to reverse a strategic decision.

Often changing your mind is the right move. But it can confuse customers and prospects – a balancing act every company has to consider. Here are 6 examples of business strategy reversals made over the years.

1. Overstock Throws Over O.co
After changing the name on an NFL stadium, creating a new Internet domain name and launching a major ad campaign, Overstock.com decided this week to back away from its O.co re-branding. Apparently, people didn't get the .co thing.

2. Gap Switches Logos
Clothing retailer Gap faced a public relations brouhaha when it switched its easily recognizable logo. Fans revolted. The company tried to turn lemons into lemonade. They ended up just bringing the old logo back.

3. Big Banks Say “What Fee?”
It’s the classic switch-a-roo. Many of the big banks decided to add a fee – somewhere between $3-$5 – for every month customers use their debit cards. Customers revolted with some threatening to switch to credit unions. So the banks changed their minds, most notably with Bank of America saying it will drop a proposed $5 fee.

4. Netflix Kills Qwikster
After angering consumers with a price hike, Netflix announced that it planned to separate its services, setting up streaming under the Netflix moniker and its DVD mailing service under the name Qwikster. We all know how this ended: Netflix was panned, the company declared Qwikster dead and promised no more price increases.

5. Tropicana Brings Back the Old Box
People are passionate about their OJ. When Tropicana attempted to freshen up its look, customers didn’t approve. Sales dropped steeply and the brand went to the way things were.

6. Steve Jobs Returns to Apple
Call it a business strategy reversal in slow motion. Steve Jobs was instrumental in founding Apple, but he was pushed out in 1985. By 1997 the company was stagnating and brought Jobs back into the company, eventually making him CEO. He fundamentally changed Apple’s direction and his legacy was solidified with a series of game-changers: the MacBook, iPod, iPhone, iPad…

7. New Coke Gets Old Fast
It’s now synonymous with brand reversals. Coca-Cola went on a mission to change its world famous formula, and in 1985 released New Coke. It was a huge flop and sparked outrage. The brand changed its mind and returned old Coke to store shelves.

The point here is that sometimes the call you make goes wrong. In many cases, doing a 180 in your business strategy is the best option. But a reversal can result in confusion. In such a case, marketers need to respond quickly and with clarity – whether it’s through advertising, social media or email.

What are the big business strategy flip flops you’ve seen? Share them in the comments section.

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