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  1. As far as branding goes, arguably you can’t get much bigger than David Beckham. A global brand recognised by inhabitants all over from Tavistock to Timbuktu: the Coca Cola and McDonalds of the celebrity world, if you will. Oh, and he also kicks a ball from time to time.

    ‘Branding’ is the often subliminal process by which a business employs marketing strategies to get people easily to remember their products and services over a competitors’. Essentially, it’s applied psychology. In this celebrity-obsessed era, there is no distinction between products and people, as far as applying these strategies is concerned. The person is the product that develops into the brand.

    However, like other well-known brands, David Beckham doesn’t always get it right. His red card while playing for Paris Saint-Germain in April was the ninth sending off of his 21-year career, the most infamous one being during the 1998 World Cup when burning Beckham effigies illuminated every street corner in England, and let’s not even mention Rebecca Loos (oops).

    Never mind, David. If it’s any consolation, you’re not the only one to get it wrong.

    After all, the world of marketing is full of infamous examples of poorly executed branding exercises.

    In Taiwan, the translation of the Pepsi slogan “Come alive with the Pepsi Generation” came out as “Pepsi will bring your ancestors back from the dead.”

    When General Motors introduced the Chevy Nova in South America, it was apparently unaware that “no va” means “it won’t go.”

    Ford had a similar problem in Brazil when the Pinto flopped. The company unearthed that Pinto was Brazilian slang for “tiny male genitals”. Ford pulled all the nameplates off and substituted it for Corcel, which means horse.

    However, all is not lost. Paul Temporal from Temporal Brand Consulting points out that your image is not your brand. Changing your image – subsequently for better or worse – “won’t effect a change in brand VALUES so the heart of the brand remains the same: what it stands for or its personality.”

    In other words, branding isn’t a surface thing. Tampering with your logo and webpage (i.e. image) is superficial. Long-term, it won’t change consumer perceptions of quality, service and the other intangibles that make them love you and keep coming back for more. This is where PR can be worth its weight in gold.

    I hear Beckham’s army of admirers everywhere breathing a collective sigh of relief.