Avoid the Leading Brand Image Killer – Brand Arrogance

Successful brands often fall victim to a common brand image killer — brand arrogance. Here is the scenario — consumers love the brand. They’re loyal to it, believe its promise, and talk about it to anyone who will listen. The brand image and reputation are stellar, sales are skyrocketing, and the money keeps rolling in. It’s only natural that the team behind that successful brand will feel their egos soar along with the brand, but that’s the first sign of impending doom for a brand. It leads directly to brand arrogance — the leading brand image killer.

brand arrogance stampBrand arrogance begins when the people responsible for managing, selling, and monitoring that brand to ensure it maintains long-term success develop an arrogant perception of the brand. Just as consumers develop brand perceptions so do the internal employees in a company who support that brand. From executives all the way down the corporate ladder, Brand Arrogance Disease (B.A.D.) permeates across an organization until the disease cannot be controlled.

There are a few very specific reasons why brand arrogance leads directly reduced sales and potentially to failure, which are discussed in more detail below.

Brand Arrogance Leads to Laziness

When employees have an exaggerated opinion of their brand’s importance and think it’s untouchable, they get lazy. The problem is that customers recognize when employees get lazy. They want to think that companies will put in at least some effort to win their business. With laziness comes mistakes, missed opportunities, customer service problems, and more. These problems just keep getting more frequent and worse until consumers turn away from the brand in search of another that appreciates them enough to keep trying.

Brand Arrogance Leads to Negative Word-of-Mouth

When a brand’s best and most loyal customers don’t feel appreciated, it’s on the track to failure. Employees can’t assume that loyal customers will simply continue to purchase the brand regardless of how the company treats them. Remember, they’re your most vocal brand advocates, but their voices are just as powerful when it comes to spreading negative word-of-mouth messages.

Brand Arrogance Leads to Decreased Market Share

Brand arrogance opens the doors for smaller brands to steal market share with guerrilla marketing campaigns. By definition, guerrilla marketing is typically used by small companies that try to steal tiny bits and pieces of market share from market leaders knowing that the leaders are unlikely to think twice about the tiny competitor’s tiny efforts. Next thing the arrogant brand’s team knows, it’s losing bigger chunks of market share faster than they ever imagined.

What Typically Ends Brand Arrogance?

The two most common factors that lead to the end of brand arrogance are technological advancements and negative publicity. Far too often, brand arrogance isn’t even detected until technological advancements make that brand inferior or obsolete or negative publicity turns the powerful brand image into exactly the opposite.

microsoft zuneFor example, Microsoft has been struggling to stay relevant and change its business as technological advancements put what many people have referred to as a monopolistic, arrogant brand and company in a position to watch products fail and market share in some businesses to decrease or fail to rise at the rates the company expects.

When it comes to negative publicity, Toyota, which relied on its brand image of reliability to justify its brand arrogance, is a good example. When Toyota recalls started a few years ago, negative publicity played a role in demonstrating how dangerous brand arrogance can be. Let’s take a look at some more examples.

Netflix received massive consumer backlash and negative publicity after the announcement that it would raise prices and divide its business into separate DVD and streaming video content with separate websites and payment models. Both the announcement of the changes, the roll out of the changes, and the company’s response to consumer complaints and negative publicity were carried out from a position of brand arrogance. Don’t believe me? Follow the link to check out the story details and the Netflix CEO email to consumers.

blockbuster closingIt wasn’t long ago that Blockbuster’s brand arrogance brought it to bankruptcy, but that arrogance wasn’t identified as a huge problem until technological advancements made new companies and brands far more attractive, convenient, and price-friendly for consumers. Interestingly, Netflix’s DVD rental by mail business model was one of the primary factors in Blockbuster’s decline, and here we are a handful of years later watching Netflix struggling to stave off the effects of negative publicity due to its own brand arrogance.

The lesson to learn from these examples is simple. It’s easy to fall victim to Brand Arrogance Disease (B.A.D.). Don’t let it kill your brand image. Instead, remember that your brand could fall in popularity as quickly as it rose. You must always follow the 3 primary steps to build a brand to ensure your brand lives a long and healthy life.

Images: asifthebes, robert nelson, yapsnaps

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Susan Gunelius
Susan Gunelius, MBA is a 25-year marketing and branding expert and President and CEO of KeySplash Creative, Inc., a marketing communications company. She is the author of 10 books about marketing, branding and social media, and her marketing-related articles appear on top media websites such as Entrepreneur.com and Forbes.com. She is also the Founder and Editor in Chief of WomenOnBusiness.com, an award-winning blog for business women.