3 Times Major Companies Have Publicly Faced Failure and What We Can Learn From It

It is often said that success is not a destination but rather a journey. For some of the world’s largest companies, this journey entails bouncing back from failure. Whether it be a product flop, poor campaigning or improper planning, failure is hard to beat, but that doesn’t mean there’s nothing to be learned from it. 

Product Failure

For Facebook, failure was on the company’s doorstep when the social media giant released the Facebook Home, better known as the “Facebook phone,” in 2013. 
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Doesn’t ring a bell? No? That’s probably because the phone failed spectacularly. The device, which was made in collaboration with HTC, was quickly met with lackluster reviews upon its release. Facing a slow rollout, AT&T cut the phone’s price from $99 to 99 cents before eventually discontinuing the device. That year, Time commemorated the phone as one of the “lamest moments in tech.” 


The failure came as a surprise to Facebook executives, especially founder Mark Zuckerberg who said he considered re-shaping Facebook into a “mobile-first company” prior to the device’s release. Despite the phone’s downturn, Facebook moved on, focusing on its true claim to fame, dominating our favorite forms of social communication. 

Marketing Mishap

Zuckerberg’s virtual domain is not the only well-known company to have overcome challenges. From Lego to Tiffany’s, companies synonymous with success are not always faultless. What these big names eventually learned in their run in with defeat is that achieving success is only possible through beating failure


A pain point many companies face in business is in marketing their products. They have a great product, but struggle to reach the right customers with the right message – an issue even a heritage brand like Tiffany & Co struggled with earlier this year. In July of 2021, the jewelry brand received backlash for a campaign called “Not Your Mother’s Tiffany.” The campaign, which featured images of young models and the words “Not Your Mother’s Tiffany” bolded on top in an effort to attract a younger audience, not only offended the company’s existing customers, but it also felt foreign to the brand’s classic and timeless image. In this case, while Tiffany’s was successful in creating a beautiful line of jewelry and specialty goods, the brand’s advertisements deterred their client base.  

Brand Bankruptcy

Lego, the infamous Danish plastic construction toys company, faced a similar challenge nearly one decade ago. The company was selling products at a loss. At the same time, new toy sets were not garnering the attention they once were. With sales down 30% and the company $800 million in debt, the only way out for Lego was up. The company eventually streamlined operations and hired new designers who felt passionate about the product. Since then, Lego has introduced many best sellers, like their Star Wars set. Now, Lego is worth $6 billion and boasts a number of movies and shows in its name. 

What Now?

When faced with failure, we often have the unnerving instinct to prevent future blunders. But what we learn from these instances is that preventing failure is a challenge that not even the world’s biggest companies are immune to. Instead of working to prevent failure, we need to Beat Failure™


This is where Priio’s Pre-Mortem Methodology comes in. By uncovering a project’s potential failure points early on, Priio creates defensible strategies and next steps, builds individual accountability around priorities and underscores on what to prevent from happening in order to succeed – all in one work session-style experience. 


Priio will have you going back to past projects wishing you conducted a pre-mortem.

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