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How To Ruin Your Brand Overnight: The Robinhood Story

How To Ruin Your Brand Overnight: The Robinhood Story

Stewart Hillhouse
Stewart Hillhouse

Even if you have no interest in investing or the stock market, you've no doubt heard of the stock trading app Robinhood after the fiasco that went on between the Reddit community r/WallStreetBets and hedge funds in early February 2021.

I'm not going to get into the financial details of what happened, but I want to use this story example to how delicate a brand truly is.

Since 2013, Robinhood had made all the right moves. They'd successfully created an attractive brand that their target customers felt comfortable using (first time investors ).

Everything they said – from their company name to their catchphrase "democratizing investments" – made them out to seem like the good guys.

And for a while, they were.

Their platform allowed individuals access to stocks with zero commissions. The way really make $ is by selling your data to the big guys, but that's for another time.

But all that changed when Robinhood needed to halt trading on a handful of specific stocks last week. Outraged by the decision (and apparent betrayal), users of Robinhood quickly tarnished the company's 5 star app store rating with hundreds of thousands of 1 star ratings.

Robinhood went from being the silent partner, to the most talked about big tech mess-up of the month.

This is still an ongoing story, so I recognize that more details are going to surface in the coming days. But there are a few lessons to be learned about brand building and the messaging you choose to use.

πŸ’₯Top Of Mind Takeaways:

Actions Speak Louder Than Words: This is another example of a company hiding their true intentions behind attractive brand messaging. Catchy ads and well-designed landing pages won't mean anything when compared to the actions you take.

The Power Of The People: No brand is safe when people self-organize to expose what's really going on. In a matter of hours, hundreds of millions of dollars were pulled from the app and hundreds of thousands of bad reviews left on app stores. Lesson: don't f*ck with the Internet.

7 Years To Build, 7 Hours To Crumble: Brand building is damn-hard and takes years of consistency to earn the trust of your audience. Unfortunately, it only takes a single negative interaction to break that trust and destroy a brand. Remember this when needing to deliver bad news to your customers: do it in a truthful and honest way.

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