Blog | October 31, 2016

Halloween Edition: 4 Scary Brand Fails on Twitter

by Trey Clark in Brand Management

Things start on a high note. Your tweets are compelling, show character and draw people into your feed. But, before long, someone on your social media team wanders off-brand. The horror is upon us all.

You publicly express your humble apologies, but the damage is done. Former loyal audience members click Unfollow while your account lies in a pool of RTs and screen captures.

One way to prevent these nightmares? Make the bones of your brand easy to find instead of chained up somewhere deep in the marketing basement. Go digital with online brand guidelines so the very latest rules for brand style and copy are just a simple click away and top of mind. That should help divert eager social media opportunists from going off the rails.

Here are four frightening examples of Twitter faux pas that could have been prevented by a better grip on brand guidelines.

Federal Student Aid Wiigs out.

The U.S. office of Federal Student Aid gets students the financial help they need to pay their college or career school admission. It’s all about helping people reach their potential, but this mean spirited tweet – adapted from a scene in Bridesmaids – puts down the people FSA is here to help.

The tweet, along with all the offending tweets below, was deleted.


Kenneth Cole appropriates unrest.

Near the height of the Egyptian revolution of 2011, the Kenneth Cole Twitter account jokingly suggested that the “uproar” – violence in the streets, government upheaval and families unable to access money in their bank accounts – was due to the fashion house’s release of its spring collection. It wasn’t. For a fashion brand known for its social justice, this clearly didn’t represent the brand ethos.



Chrysler curses city of Detroit.

It’s not clear whether the agency controlling Chrysler’s Twitter account sent the tweet on purpose or meant to use their personal account. What is clear is that Chrysler didn’t support the tweet or the person that wrote it. They are proud of their heritage and are known for doing a great job of celebrating it with their “Imported from Detroit” ad with John Varvatos and Iggy Pop.



IHOP overcooks the joke.

The company responsible for the now-infamous “Pancakes on fleek” tweet crossed over from merry to misogyny. If there wasn’t something in their brand guidelines about respecting women, it’s a good bet there is now.