Why Deceptive Branding is Not The Best Method

Your whole effort at branding is to make your product as attractive as possible, where packaging is usually the key. This is an area of marketing that businesses so much rely on to hook up consumers but deceptive branding may turn out into a total disaster that will quickly send you into the oblivion if you are involved in the practice. 

The situation has got to an alarming rate to the extent that the Food & Drug Administration (FDA) is no longer taking things lying low and has felt the need to step in with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), against sellers of nicotine-containing e-liquids that looked like juice boxes, candy, and cookies that were seen as having the potential of creating a mixup for children with other look-alike ordinary products. This is a type of deceptive branding that could be plain dangerous.

You may think you are out to disguise but that can be a devilishly subtle way of deception. In branding, there’s a big difference between trying to push the truth and outrightly making false claims. 

That’s what deceptive branding is. A lot of businesses have suffered untold setbacks for peddling mediocre products while using wild claims like “scientifically proven” with “guaranteed results.”

One good case in point was when the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) filed a lawsuit against Volkswagen, for claiming that the car company had deceived customers with the advertising campaign it used to promote its supposedly “Clean Diesel” vehicles, according to a press release. You will remember that VW was exposed in 2015, for having been cheating emissions tests on its diesel cars in the US for the past seven years.

The allegation the FTC leveled on the company was that “Volkswagen deceived consumers by selling or leasing more than 550,000 diesel cars based on false claims that the cars were low-emission, environmentally friendly.”

While the VW case may not have generated very harsh consequences in Europe, it was another ball game altogether in the U.S. The FTC delivered swift consequences. VW was made to face harsh corporate criminal sanctions, flexible and draconian criminal laws, and streamlined consumer class-action procedures, which made the company to quickly capitulate. 

The case lasted just about nine months and this is a rare occurrence taking into consideration its international nature. In a settlement that could have crippled any company that is not solidly funded, VW agreed to pay roughly $15 billion which is a whopping amount in civil compensation and damages to consumers the company had deceived all along, federal, and state authorities for the 2.0-liter cars involved. 

The amount, however, rose up to more than $25 billion, as deals were reached for the 3.0-liter cars, and for criminal fines as well as penalties. Volkswagen eventually had to buy back or fix most of the offending vehicles. 

Their customers were paid thousands of dollars per car in compensation for a variety of losses, including the offensive deceptive branding itself and diminished resale value. 

What will you say about the makers of popular brain-training app Luminosity who in January 2016, were given a $2 million fine from the Federal Trade Commission, for deceiving players with uncorroborated advertising claims? Lumos Labs tried to deceive customers with the claim of Luminosity being able to help prevent Alzheimer’s disease, as well as aiding players to perform better at school, the FTC found. 

According to what Lumos Labs ran in its ads, the company said that if you played the games for more than 10 minutes, three times a week you would attain your “full potential in every facet of your life.” Jessica Rich, a director at the FTC said: “Luminosity simply did not have the science to back up its ads.”

Quite unlike before, the situation now has become so serious that you can’t even afford to embark on deceptive branding. Customers are so much unto the game, marketing has also gone so customer-centric. 

They are backed by social media, they have a voice now and are ever ready to use it. It’s not like the former times when you can get away with some form of short practices. 

Customers and potential customers research the market before even making any attempt to buy. Most customers depend on influencers which could be their friends and families to convince them into an onboarding.

There are some others that also are converted through experiential marketing campaigns. And where you try by any means to deceive people into buying your b product with disguised branding and caught, the volume of negative refferals you’ll get is enough to send you packing from the market.

Another way you’ll be fought is through the overwhelming reach of social media. Your company will be so castigated that you can never rear your head in the global market anymore.

This is aided by the internet of a thing and the world becoming a global village. Deceptive branding is not the best method for you and you shouldn’t even consider it one bit.

Photo Credit: trendingtopics Flickr via Compfight cc

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About John Ejiofor

John Ejiofor is a curious life-researcher, whose quest to finding answers to life's pertinent questions has led to founding Nature Torch. This blog aims to debate and explore many questions about our earth -- including those a lot of people are uncomfortable with asking. He has been published on some of the internet's most respected websites, which you can find online.
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