Columbus Salame: Will Noxious Chemicals Harm Brand?

Harmful to brand integrity if released ...Image property of MySafetySign.comHarmful to brand integrity if released …Image property of

For Bay Area shoppers, staring eye-to-eye into Christopher Columbus' homely visage is a nostalgic experience. Columbus Salame, like Mother's Cookies or even the It's-It, is a company that deserves the title “local institution.” Ice cream and cookie companies may hold a more special place in the heart, however, than processed meat facilities.

Also, the good people at Mother's and It's-It never leaked clouds of noxious chemicals into the region, sickening the locals.

Alas, Columbus Salame did just that. Today the Environmental Protection Agency announced the venerable company will fork over nearly $700,000 in penalties on top of a $6 million upgrade to the refrigeration system that twice failed in 2009, leading to around 420 pounds of gas spewing out of the South San Francisco plant.

Association of the term “anhydrous ammonia” with its products does not figure to be a branding boon for Columbus. How to recover? We asked a branding expert.

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