How To Destroy Your Brand Reputation In 9 Easy Steps

Follow this actionable guide to ensure your brand never thrives and instead, generates (lasting) negative sentiment. It really is effortless…

Sam Hurley
October 23 2017

Your brand image = Your volume of sales.

“45% said they stumbled on search results that made them decide not to buy”. 

(Source: Vendasta)

Can you afford to lose nearly half of your potential business..?

This is exactly how you should be thinking when it comes to reputation.

And reputation is forever fragile.

Imagine a deck of playing cards, some of which are meticulously positioned to form the base of a pyramid. This particular jumbo deck contains 10 trillion cards (and it’s set to be a mighty large pyramid)!

A delicate structure that resembles your brand…and it is never complete.

Just one costly mistake on your behalf (or a force from elsewhere) can send the whole lot tumbling down (especially when social media plays such a huge role in our daily lives).

(P.S. Illustrative purposes only — this example is missing a lot of cards. For best results, please do not build an insignificant brand like this at home — or anywhere!)

In this fast-paced world, it’s not at all difficult to inadvertently ruin your hard-earned reputation in just a few moments — and many have done so in the past.

Here are 9 steps to destroy your brand with ease!

Let’s do this…


Step #1: Treat Customers Like Disposable Objects

Ahhh, customers. The lifeblood of your business!

It makes perfect sense to disrespect and make them feel undervalued, right?

There are a variety of highly-actionable methods you can use to do so, including:

  • Not responding to their requests for help in a timely manner
  • Replying to customers in a way that is arrogant, patronizing and dismissive
  • Selling your customers junk in the first place, while making it sound amazing
  • Ignoring customers outright
  • Blatantly placing more emphasis on gaining new customers rather than keeping your existing base, happy (a little more on this in a tick)
  • Using silly contracts with clauses that are always in massive favor of your brand, rather than being customer-centric
  • Using silly contracts with clauses that are so hidden or wordy, not even a hawk could spot them
  • Taking the side of your employees rather than customers’ viewpoints
  • Passing customers from pillar to post and keeping them on hold for hours on end
  • Making it as difficult as humanly possible for customers to leave you
  • Refusing to refund customers who may have accidentally paid for something they didn’t want in the first place
  • Demonstrating that even you or your workforce don’t know what your brand is doing

Yes! These are actual events I have witnessed from large brands over the last few months…

And they achieved this effect brilliantly:

(Infographic Source: JitBit)

Even customers who bring only a fraction of revenue should not fall far behind, when it comes to servicing them with rapid care and support.

Of course, every brand has priority customers. But make everybody feel like a somebody, and your business will rocket.

Any business that ‘hasn’t got the available resource,’ needs to create it!

Quality treatment should of course be applied to prospects, too — but existing customers are your absolute priority, in any case.

They have invested in you, after all.

An exchange of money means a lot…

This guy even spent $1,000 on Twitter ads to make people aware of his encounter!

Fall foul of your customers at your brand’s expense. People will make it known.

What’s scarier? For every customer who complains about bad service — 26 others remain silent.

I’m sure many of us have experienced poor support and lack of consideration in general, particularly from some larger organizations that spend millions on TV ads but treat current customers like they are individual (and throwaway) sources of ‘little’ revenue…

[NOTE: One recent example is yet another dominating airline that recently fell into hot water — all of a sudden, a wave of TV ads hits our screens. Not cool.]


Step #2: Talk Politics, Race, Religion…

Unless such sensitive topics are at the very core of your business, they are the biggest ‘no no’ for brands. Ever!

Even with the most positive intentions, you risk causing a lasting rift (at best)…

That said, this is a guide on how to destroy your brand. So, now you are more equipped to do so!

Take the example of Starbucks’ ex-CEO. He decided to personally associate the brand with his own political views.

The consequence?

A whole host of responses, like this one:



Step #3: Don’t Engage On Social Media

A surefire way to annoy your customers and followers, while also losing the trust of any brand loyalists you may have!

Here’s a very special technique to strip all credibility:

Try ignoring your audience completely, while also posting regular, promotional content of your own!

This not only shows you don’t give a damn about your following, but also proves you only exist for one reason only: To make money.

No care. No love. A brilliant image to portray:

You could even top it all off by sending automated, canned replies to people, based on keywords they may use in their tweets!

Well, if you’re going to do something — you may as well go all out:

Toyota had their account suspended after spamming people in this direct and impersonal manner!

Top points for brand destruction.


Step #4: Break Promises & Lie About Your Offering

Over promise, under deliver?

Be disloyal to your paying customers, and they will leave. Fast!

Pure deceit is certain to spoil any hard work in creating a once-solid brand.

All it takes is a few angry social shares, blog posts and news reports to snowball — and suddenly, your brand begins to show more negative search results than positive…

As an extra added bonus, this also has the power to drastically impact brand equity:








(Graph Source: Fortune)

VW basically tweaked their car software to give false readings of emissions produced. It was never going to end well…

You may even find other brands popping up, dedicated to your misery and dead set on seeking justice:


Step #5: Attempt To Profit From Worldly Disasters

I really, really have never understood what possesses brands (and/or their employees) to even consider this a good idea?!

Yet, huge companies still make the same mistakes — time and time again.

Gap decided to offer ‘support’ for those affected by hurricane Sandy (note the included hashtag, for extra visibility):

To make matters worse, the insensitive tweet was simply deleted — and they seemingly haven’t responded to the majority of public uproar…



Step #6: Don’t Enforce A Social Media Policy

A workforce that is hundreds or thousands strong, usually indicates a booming brand.

However, this does come with its fair share of downfalls.

To quickly eradicate your professional brand image, be sure to never create or distribute a company-wide social media policy!

This way, all workers feel free to post what they want, when they want. They are able to degrade your brand or even use profanity under your name…without official consequences.

No policy also means they have a better chance of fighting off any law suits (if things happen to get really bad).

Check out this Burger King worker, chilling on a bed of buns!

(Image Source: HuffPost)

This one circulated quickly…

Posts you wouldn’t ever want to go viral, tend to do the opposite!


Step #7: Forget To Sign Out Of Social Accounts

The weekend comes as a great relief for many.

Clearly so; as expressed to the world via Social Media (by an employee):

Although this scenario may be somewhat comical from an outside perspective — it is awful enough to publicize from any account, let alone the company Twitter feed!

I doubt the employee nor the CEO found it even remotely funny…

‘Account mix up’ is probably the easiest blunder to make — and an extremely swift method to rapid brand obliteration!


Step #8: Send Negative, Subliminal Signals

Reputation is shaped not only by the communications you deliver, but also the somewhat small cumulative actions you take and the company you surround yourself with each day.

For instance — think how your audience and customers will perceive your brand when you ‘like’ a Facebook post that is politically charged.

How about joyfully engaging with a well-known bully? Or only replying to ‘favorite’ people, while ignoring other, more genuine folk?

(Infographic Source: Sprout Social)

Still, there are times when you don’t even need to ‘like’, say (or type) a word.

Simply being associated can have gloomy consequences for all.

Professional swimmer (Mr. Lochte) lost his endorsement partnerships with Speedo, Ralph Lauren and multiple other brands after he was found to have provided false information regarding a supposed robbery…

Sweet-turned-sour relations like this can eternally damage brand reps.

(News + Image Source: The Guardian)

Speaking of indirect destruction, here is another potent method to successfully secure and distribute negative vibes towards your brand!

  • Talk behind backs — mainly, to spread defamation of others

This not only makes you and your represented brand look foolish — but it can backfire massively.

Think about this:

The people to whom you divulge your opinions and/or untruths to may have respect for the party (or parties) you are badmouthing — and consequently — share your ‘private’ conversations…

How can such a scenario end?

At worst, you lose tons of credibility and also set yourself up for legal action. When that gets out (and you potentially get hit with hefty costs), it’s pretty much game over for your business!

(News Source: The Independent)

Following on nicely…


Step #9: Act Before Thinking

There are a million and one ways to act too soon, without proper thought.

From responding to customers in a huff after a bad day, to feeding trolls and reacting to negative PR or competitor taunts — hasty, snide remarks can land your brand in trouble.

Sometimes, company chiefs can also get carried away with success.

The money is rolling in, but this may not always be the case…

Especially when the CEO belittles their own brand.

And what a perfect note on which to conclude this destructive guide!

Mr. Ratner was once the owner of Britain’s largest jewelry company — worth £500m.

That was until, he ‘did a Ratner’ (as it’s now famously known).

During a speech, he remarked: “People say, ‘How can you sell this for such a low price?’ I say, because it’s total crap…”

And on the topic of the brand’s earrings, he claimed they were, “Cheaper than a Marks and Spencer’s prawn sandwich — but probably wouldn’t last as long…”

This ultimately ended up costing him his business…to the point where 330 shops were closed down and he was forced to rebrand entirely!

(Image Source: BBC)

I’m just as baffled as you are!


Wrap-Up (+ Positive Actions)

There you have it — 9 powerful steps to successfully demolish your brand imagerelatively quickly.

Using these tactics, it’s easy to plummet reputation and sales into oblivion!

DISCLAIMER: But seriously, try your very best to avoid all the above slip-ups. Nobody here is actually recommending you ruin your brand (or anybody else’s, for that matter)!

We all make mistakes — some more costly than others. Just be sure to learn from your own, those of your peers and of course — those of global superbrands. This is how we grow…


Here are the actions I definitely recommend!

Step #1: Treat Customers With 100% Love, Care & Respect

Step #2: Never Get Involved In Politics, Race Or Religion Discussions
(Unless They Are Your Core Focus)

Step #3: Devotedly Engage On Social Media

Step #4: Be Authentic & Prioritize Helping Your Customers
(Not Just Boosting Your Revenue)

Step #5: Provide Genuine Support For Victims Of Worldly Disasters
(After Careful Planning)

Step #6: Create & Enforce A Robust Social Media Policy

Step #7: Always Check Social Account Sign-Ins & Implement A Strict Process

Step #8: Be Fully Aware Of All Brand Associations
(Even Supposedly ‘Small’ Actions)

Step #9: Think Before Acting

Sam Hurley

Sam is a passionate 'people connector', Personal Branding expert & Founder of OPTIM-EYEZ. He has achieved success for SMEs, national and international organizations, while being ranked as the world’s #1 digital influencer by Webinale, #2 most influential digital marketer by Onalytica and world’s #3 content marketing influencer by ScribbleLive. Sam loves a high-octane action movie and his all time favorite supercar is the Lamborghini Aventador! Catch him on social for cosmic amounts of Digital Marketing tips.

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