How your reputation can be damaged even if you did nothing

The reputation of your brand can be damaged, not only by things your company does but also by coincidences you never thought about. Ask the Libeert family, a centenary chocolatier family-business that saw how the brand reputation and sales dropped dramatically in the last few years.

The reason? The company was founded as Italo-Suisse but the name was changed to ISIS (Italo Suisse ItaloSuisse) sharing name with the Greek goddess’ and because the business no longer has connections with Italy and Switzerland.

As last year the terrorist Islamic group starting having presence in the media, the chocolate-makers saw how their orders started to decrease as the new name caused confusion over the company’s origins and negative associations in the customer’s mind.


“It has (made) quite an impact (on our business). It’s very difficult to say what the cost has been because we didn’t get the orders, but we have an estimation for about two, three million euros, which is quite a number,” Libeert reportedly said. “We had international customers saying that they could no longer stock our chocolate as consumers had only negative associations with the name.”

It was only a matter of bad luck which had ended up costing more than a headache to the company’s board committee. However, we must realise the brave decision that the Libeert family made by changing the name.

According to a lot of studies, rebranding must be avoided when there is any other option at hand. It means starting from zero and leaving a lot of values and images associated with your brand behind.

People tend to become attached to the identities of well-known brands. Once they recognise and identify it, they are resistant to see it change. Changing brand identity is a risky business, not only because it has the potential to reduce brand recognition, recall and key associations, but also because it could cause customer dissatisfaction.

Sadly, it seems that, in this case, there wasn’t any other solution. With the sales already decreasing and distributers scared of the images they were going to project by selling ISIS chocolate, they couldn’t not we can’t think on other way to fix it.

However, we must acknowledge that building a reputation takes a lot of time and money than Libeert/Italo-Suisse will have to invest again now and for many years the next years due to this unlucky this is fate. Best of luck to them.

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