Intergalactic Branding Fails


Building a Death Star isn’t easy or cheap, but one organization chose to go above and beyond to prove they could do it. In their quest to build the ultimate in branding icons, the Empire had to scrape their pennies for many years.

At the cost of over $85 quadrillion, the Death Star would have cost 13,000 times the GDP of planet Earth. Even for the Galactic Empire, that’s a lot of money. So, really, could you buy a Death Star?

An infographic on buying a Death Star from a Chartered Accountant's point of view

The Galactic Tax Returns: How Tax Helped Build the Death Star [Infographic] infographic was brought to you by the team at Russell Smith Chartered Accountants.

Well, the Empire could, but it came at a massive, massive cost. And what did they gain from their investment? As it turns out, very little.

With the might of their Imperial Navy behind them, the Empire had no problem controlling and subduing the galaxy. Instead, the technological terror that is the Death Star served as a symbol of their might and power. A physical piece of unrivalled branding that would allow them, through pure fear, to maintain their position as the ultimate power in the galaxy.

However, the Death Star didn’t do that. It was ultimately their undoing — and one of the biggest branding fails in history.

How Branding Fails Destroyed the Imperial Empire, And What You Can Learn From It

It was supposed to make them stronger than ever, cementing their place as the masters of the galaxy through a sensational piece of branding. However, both iterations of the Death Star resulted in catastrophic failures and eventually led to the destruction of the Imperial Empire.

Branding is powerful. It allows you to make your mark upon the world. However, the wrong kind of branding can ruin an organisation, a business or, indeed an intergalactic totalitarian regime.

These are the important lessons the Death Star taught us about real world of branding:

Absorbing All Resources into One Project is a Bad Idea

So you’ve had an idea on how to brand your business or website. You think it’s the best idea you’ve ever had; the perfect way to get your business noticed. Well, the Emperor had an idea too.

The Death Star was a branding campaign that took years to complete and absorbed vast amounts of resources. Imagine what the Empire could have done with all those quadrillions of credits if it hadn’t built a Death Star?

After all the investment, it bought them —- and the people of Alderaan — nothing but pain.

Imagine you are in a similar position. You want to build the branding of your company so you create a massive campaign, but it doesn’t work. Now what?

In the time it takes for you to recuperate, to find another way of marketing your business, it could collapse just like the Empire. During this time, the rebellion your competitors are getting the edge over you.

Don’t put all your eggs in one basket. Expand your branding over many different areas to ensure if one piece of your campaign fails, you can find a new hope in something else.

Giving Your Competition a Target to Focus On Can Leave You in Hot Water

The Empire always had a pretty big target on its back, and that may be the same with your business. Perhaps you offer a controversial service or product, or maybe you just have plenty of competitors that are gunning for your position in the market.

When you are in such a situation, branding is tricky. It’s important to get your voice and identity out there, but to do so in a way that doesn’t rock the boat too much. Controversial branding can result in a bad reception and a landslide of people speaking out against you, damaging your reputation.

This is a major mistake the Empire made. It had plenty of opponents, but the fight back was small, made in pockets and bursts. They had no real way of making an impact. However, when the Death Star appeared, it opened a window for those against the organisation to make an impression. It was so big, so public, that it was able to help band those that fought against the Empire together and deliver a crushing blow.

A large branding campaign for a controversial business shouldn’t be undertaken without serious thought. Unifying those who could ruin your business is a genuine risk in such scenarios. The Death Star clearly demonstrated that.

Improper Execution Can Lead to Critical Weaknesses

The Death Star is a branding symbol with a major weakness. While that weakness may be a physical exhaust port that can be exploited, there are other, less literal weaknesses that could potentially occur in your branding. If it isn’t run through the correct troubleshooting procedures, your efforts to brand your business could blow up in your face.

People are very attentive. They notice little details you might not expect them to. They may also take offence to branding content that seems harmless, resulting in a backlash. For example, last year, Coca-Cola came under fire from food health authorities after its branded advertising appeared to display elements of racial discrimination. Clearly, this wasn’t the intent of Coca-Cola, instead trying to hit home their branded message of togetherness, family and friendship.

However, this branding wasn’t executed correctly and had a negative impact instead of the positive one intended. Just like the Death Star, it wasn’t thought through properly and it didn’t end well.

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