What is a brand breakup?

What is a brand breakup?

Ever been through a breakup? They’re tough.

It’s emotionally draining and can cause tremendous turmoil. In the end, your life might look completely different from how it was before.

Breakups make you reflect and push you to change.

They can happen between people, but they can also happen between a customer and a brand.

While it sounds a bit dramatic, a brand breakup is what happens when a brand does something that upsets a customer so much that they vow to never purchase from them again. They get to a point where they stop what they’re doing and say no more. You can tell a brand breakup is happening when you hear things like:

“…I cancelled my subscription.”
“…I won’t purchase from a company that believes that stuff.”
“…I’m never going to get my hair done there.”
“…I couldn’t listen anymore and hit unsubscribe.”

The message is similar to what you’d hear in a regular breakup: you’re not getting my time, money, attention, or energy every again.

Good-bye. Forever.

I’m sure everyone, at some point, has experienced bad customer service or gotten fed up with a company. This isn’t quite the same thing, but there’s overlap. A waiter who doesn’t refill your water cup isn’t going to cause emotional agony that leaves you tossing and turning at night.

Brand breakups are especially hard when large groups of customers negatively react to a decision made by a company. When people are fueled by emotion and stop spending money with your company, you will feel it quickly.

Recently, Netflix decided to tie its brand to pseudoscience when it released a new show called ‘Goop Lab’. The advice and ‘science’ outlined in the show is as appealing as the name of the show itself.

While it maintained its promise of being entertaining, its underlying message conflicted with people’s values. You can’t make everyone happy 100% of the time, but you do need to be aware of the consequences of ignoring the thoughts and feelings of your customers. They are real.

Angry mobs are scary, but they shouldn’t be ignored.

Don’t hide. It’s possible to do something better. As a brand, you can transform your business when stuff goes sideways; but you need to have the right strategies.


1️⃣ Take ‎ownership;
2️⃣ Be authentic.

When companies make mistakes, people who support them sometimes want to hear ‘…oops, we’re sorry.’

This can be a public apology for an offside email they wrote. Maybe it’s a Zoom meeting from a ‘higher up’ that explains the issue and acknowledges the whoopsie(s).

This week we’ve seen a lot of major companies close their doors because of backlash on social media. It was a decision that will cost companies a lot of money, but staying open was not an option people were going to stand for.

When you make a wrong move today, people will tell you. And they get to choose how. The flip side is that you get to choose how you respond.

If you find yourself on the cusp of a breakup with your customer base, don’t let fear make the decisions for you. Standby your beliefs and explain your reasoning. Being open and transparent is more effective than trying to ignore the problem.

Categorized as Branding

By Christine

Hi, I'm Christine. I'm a public speaker & marketing professional with a specialization in digital strategy. I live and breathe all things content & marketing. In my previous positions, I've done everything from rebranding companies, launching new SaaS products, writing sales copy, and developing long-term SEO & social strategies. I believe that quality communication and measurable results are the key to every digital marketing strategy.