Acts of “brandalism”

In the run up to the Olympics there has been a spate of billboards from a group of artists working under the title “Brandalism”. The billboards are designed to be subversive, with various anti-corporate messages. You can read more about their work here.

In the long line of “brand” inspired lingo this one resonates with me on a couple of levels. Quite obviously I like anything that highlights the hypocrisy of what so many call “brand.” But, at another level, the term brings to mind a whole raft of other issues that are a long way from subversive billboards.

There are so many things that organisations do in acts of “brandalism” that don’t require outside help – they manage perfectly well all on their own!

A few bigger and most recent ones that come to mind:

  • Social media campaigns that take on life of their own and go in a whole different unintended direction. Shocking I know. #coles #qantas
  • Announcing massive layoffs and management boondoggle trips in same week (yep looking at you ANZ).
  • Responding to legitimate customer complaints by publicly criticising the person complaining. GASP.
  • Telling all your customers that you “CAN”. Careful you don’t trip over the asterisk on that one!

The list could go on and on.

Add to that less public things such as policies that punish the many for the acts of the few; customer service responsiveness that is anything but; products or services that don’t come close to being as billed; public companies held ransom to short-term results by greedy investors; organisations and employees at war over wages and conditions.

When you deface your organisation by making promises you can’t keep, not keeping the promises you’ve made, or just being careless and stupid with your actions and decisions, “brandalism” is probably a pretty good description of the outcome.

Do you inadvertently engage in “brandalism”? It’s a question worth thinking about.

See you next week.

Michel is an independent adviser and advocate dedicated to helping organisations make promises they can keep and keep the promises they make – with a strong, resilient organisation as the result. She also publishes a blog at You can follow Michel on Twitter @michelhogan


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