The 10 Most Overrated Brands?

I just ran across a slide show on called Lucas Conley’s 10 most overrated brands. Conley, who just wrote a book called OBD (Obsessive Brand Disorder), points to these 10 “tired” brands:

  • Southwest Airlines (The airline’s issue with safety inspections and its subsequent reaction has tarnished it’s fun-loving image).
  • The Gap (After trying a myriad of media tricks to get attention and 15 quarters of declining sales drops, the retailer has suspended TV ads).
  • The Los Angeles Lakers (Unlike the “Showtime” brand of the past, the Lakers couldn’t even keep the attention of their own fans)
  • Oprah (“Oprah’s Big Give” TV show was an instant flop and one of the many recent stumbles for the overexposed media queen). 
  • MTV (No more full-length videos, and the station’s programming now amounts to reductive reality crossovers and tasteless dating shows).
  • Dunkin’ Donuts (The new owners pushed DD coffee into stores and supermarkets while touting Rachel Ray and dismantling of the firm’s original neon sign).
  • Victoria’s Secret (Since 2004, when the company hired unsexy folk legend Bob Dylan to appear in ads, Victoria’s Secret has been groping in the dark)
  • Apple (In an age when no-name companies make phones of equal quality at a fraction of the price of an iPhone, how long can Apple keep sales and its cool factor up?)
  • Trump (Trump has become a trinket tycoon, feverishly trading in on his name to peddle a bazaar’s worth of crap… like Trump water and Trump cologne). 
  • The Everybrand (I didn’t quite get what he was saying about this one)

My take: I agree with many, but not all, of the brands on the list…

  • I agree with these being on the list:
    • Trump (enough of him already), Oprah (she’s overplayed, but give her snaps for doing some good things for society), Victoria’s Secret (it can’t quite get sexy right), Los Angelas Lakers (go Celtics!), The Gap (it’s down now, but I’m hopeful for a comeback), and MTV (I can’t take any more reality).
  • I disagree with these being on the list:
    • Apple (it’s coolness still has some staying power); Southwest Airlines (it can recover from the recent snafu) and Dunkin’ Donuts (okay, I just like Rachel Ray).

The bottom line: Your brand is a terrible thing to waste.

Written by 

I am an experience management transformist, helping organizations improve business results by engaging the hearts and minds of their customers, employees, and partners. My "job" is Head of the Qualtrics XM Institute. The Institute is still being established, but our goal is to help organizations around the world thrive by mastering Experience Management (XM). As part of this focus, I examine strategy, culture, interaction design, customer service, branding and leadership practices. And, as many people know, I love to speak about these topics in almost any forum. Prior to joining Qualtrics, I was managing partner of Temkin Group (leading CX research, advisory, and training firm), co-founder and chair of the Customer Experience Professionals Association (, and a VP at Forrester Research. I'm a fanatical student of business, so this blog provides an outlet for sharing insights from my ongoing educational journey. Check out my LinkedIn profile:

3 thoughts on “The 10 Most Overrated Brands?”

  1. You really think Victoria’s Secret and MTV are overrated? I do not believe anyone touches Victoria’s Secret in their respective market. And, although I do not like the MTV reality there has to be people out there who do. Just look at how they made celebrities out of people who do nothing.

  2. Jon: I think the notion of an overrated brand means that it’s vulnerable, not that it’s time to close down the company. Victoria Secret has admitted that it’s been struggling with the sexiness level of its brand, which has opened up the opportunity for new players like Gilly Hicks to carve away parts of its market. As for MTV, it’s just a personal preference thing. If there are enough people who continue to get drawn into the reality shows, then maybe MTV should redefine the brand. What do you think about RTV (reality TV)?

  3. Agree that while the Gap has been struggling to “find itself” after years of cannibalizing itself between Old Navy and, to a lesser extent, Banana Republic, it still has the ability to pull itself out of the slump. As for Trump, what is to admire about this “brand”?

    One company which was surprisingly not on the list is Macy´s. Considering the distinguished history of this department store (ala “Miracle on 34th Street”), and it´s former reputation as a place where shopping is an “Experience”, it has lost its shine in it´s push to be America´s Department Store. By consolidating the Federated brands, and buying other brands, it has achieved cost-savings in many areas, but is quickly becoming an upscale Wal-Mart increasingly known for bad customer service, confusing store layouts, and out-of-stocks.

    With competition from more upscale stores, like Dillard´s, as well as the discounters like Target, how can Macy´s make its brand miraculous again and keep from getting squeezed out of the marketplace?

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