How Do Horrible Brands Survive? Pragmatism Over Preference.

McCorkell Business Manager Rhys Gillmer explores the complicated landscape of branding, and the psychology behind why we sometimes choose to use brands we don’t necessarily have a positive connection with. You can see his original LinkedIn post here


I bet every person that reads this article has had a horrible experience with a brand but have returned and continued to use their services. Why is that?


There are so many options in the market these days that surely we could shop somewhere else and give our hard earned income to the brands we preference. Unfortunately this isn’t the case. It’s a matter of Pragmatism Over Preference.


There are many factors to why we as consumers are this way, for instance:

Availability – Impatience

Price – Cheaper

Convenience – Closer


We are extremely loyal creatures when it comes to the brands we love but if we can get an item that is cheaper, visually alike, solves the same problem and we can purchase it as soon as we want – we’ll buy it.


Horrible brands endure because they’re reliable for always being our safety nets. Shoes out of stock? Plane to catch? Better deal? Horrible brands will always be there to catch you when you can’t be bothered to pay more, go as far or wait as long.


Human beings: Loyal but lazy.


Why we are loyal towards certain brands is something much trickier. Use Apple for example, we know:

– Apple products are only built to last a few years;

– They hire and abuse thousands of overseas workers in ‘sweatshops’;

– They use our data to find out the things we don’t say openly.


Image courtesy


Yet, they are one of the biggest and most loved brands in the world.


24/7 Wall St. released a business piece in 2015 named the “10 Most Hated Companies in America”. List below:

1. General Motors Company (Defect that caused 42 deaths)

2. Sony Corporation (Annual losses, leaked emails and hacking scandal)

3. DISH Network Corp (20% of respondents rated the network poorly)

4. McDonalds (Low wages – avg $8hr)

5. Bank of America (ACSI score of 69 and highest share of poor reviews)

6. Uber (Hated by Cab/Limo services)

7. Sprint Corp (Quarterly Net Declines and loss of 2.6million subscribers)

8. Spirit Airlines (One of the most complained-about airlines and poor service)

9. Wal-Mart (The companies low wages meant taxpayers had to cover the cost of it’s employees on social safety net programs).

10. Comcast (Poor internet and television service).



The Huffington Post added to this:

“To be truly hated, a company must alienate a large number of people. It may irritate consumers with bad customer service, upset employees by paying low wages, and disappoint Wall Street with underwhelming returns. For a small number of companies, such failures are intertwined. These companies managed to antagonize more than just one group and have become widely disliked.”


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