Museum of Failure: When Good Brands Make Bad Product

Museum of Failure

In a world where we crave authenticity and celebrate imperfection, it’s no wonder that we find ourselves fascinated by the Museum of Failure

Founder Samuel West, an organizational psychologist, has compiled a collection of some of the world’s most unloved products from major brands that have experienced failure. While many companies initially refused to participate, the exhibit has become a success, and brands including Microsoft and Ikea have now offered their most regrettable products for display.

Why do big brands fail?

West, who has extensive experience studying innovation and marketing, highlights that there are countless ways to fail in the business world. From overhyped products to flawed marketing strategies and bad timing, failure is virtually inherent to innovation. Despite this, many companies are not equipped to learn from their mistakes, failing to put in the necessary resources or effort to do so.

Museum of Failure

Photo: Adweek

The Museum of Failure showcases products that never should have gone past the idea phase, products that suffered from marketing department hype, and products that suffered from lack of testing. It also highlights the hubris of leadership and the external factors that can contribute to a product’s failure. 

Even with access to consumer research through social media, companies still experience failure in their innovation efforts.

Failed products and successful brands

Some companies continue to fail at the same thing repeatedly, while others require time to get it right. For example, Coca-Cola has attempted to make coffee-flavored Coke happen twice already, while Nintendo experienced several failures before achieving success with the Nintendo Wii in 2006.

West sees signs that some companies are beginning to embrace failure, such as the «no-blame culture» within some German companies. Marketing is also shifting away from the idea of a perfect product, with self-deprecating campaigns becoming more common.

Museum of Failure

Photo: Adweek

Despite failure being a natural part of innovation, the Museum of Failure shows that even major brands are not immune to missteps. 

While many companies are not equipped to learn from their failures, branding and advertising professionals seem to appreciate the exhibit’s message that authenticity and genuine products are what consumers want. So, step into the Museum of Failure and learn from the mistakes of the past to create a brighter future.