Gary Vee on arrogance, ad agencies and what brands need to know.

Simon Mainwaring / Advertising / 9 years ago

This week I had the pleasure of speaking at Connect Now in Australia with some great people including @garyvee @briansolis @debs @missrogue @huxley @silkcharm @fibendall @worldnomads and @problogger (all great people to follow). We learned a lot from each other and the conference was a huge success so congrats to @SiobahnBilfun.

At one point Gary and I stepped outside and discussed something you don’t hear a lot about. The right of a brand to be arrogant in the social space. We hear a lot about a brand’s need to listen, to respond selflessly and to celebrate their community, but where do you draw the line between the brand and its community? Here are Gary’s answers that are sure to provoke and inspire.

What are your thoughts – can a brand ever be arrogant?


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  1. Avatar Simon Young says:

    Fantastic question, Simon. And a great answer from Gary! His comments about not letting your community define you spurred some thoughts that had already been percolating:

    I think I’ve come to the same conclusion as Gary does here. Know what you do, ask your customers what you stand for.

  2. Avatar billselak says:

    Speaking as a personal brand, I agree that it’s important to know where you’re going. You are the bus driver. Yes, listen to people (“Hey, I think you ran over a cat…”). Yes, see if you’re on track (“Hey, you missed my stop…”). No, don’t let people tell you where to drive (“Hey, can you drop me off at my house?”). You’re driving the bus–you make the calls. Be proud and confident about that.

  3. Avatar Charlie says:

    Perhaps what this comes down to is that perception/reputation is less important than ‘character’ then?

    There’s a quote by John Wooden – “Be more concerned with your character than your reputation, because your character is what you really are, while your reputation is merely what others think you are.”

    Which I take, in the brand arena, to mean that you need to be your values rather than displaying them as an affectation. This, to me is what the social net is all about.

    Don’t promise, deliver.

  4. Avatar Jye Smith says:

    Great interview with Mr V here. I think it’s important to always understand what the business outcomes are, and that’ll be your (and generally your CFO’s) best measure ‘if you’re doing well in this space’.

    Community can drive business outcomes. Influence and awareness can too.

  5. Avatar Iconic88 says:

    Thanks Simon for a great interview with Gary Vaynerchuk @garyvee.

    In my opinion brands are a projection of it's people. That encapsulates the peoples' voice and tone from within the brand. So yes they can be arrogant and it's tightly contingent on how their audience perceives them. Brands can also be perceived on being humble too. Brands can be what they want to be, just like individuals.

    The questions for brands are these, how do they want to be perceived? and is this perception adding value to achieving their overall business goals.

    Know your destination, develop a plan, and build your road with the right team (ie. with all your stakeholders in sync).

    Thanks Simon.

    All the best,

  6. Avatar Saidbyjane says:

    I would also say it depends on the stage and target client that the company is aiming for. The whole notion of arrogance versus confidence is always greatly disputed. My take is that you want to be careful how you define arrogance; in certain cases because it could reflect a “unapproachable” brand. That’s why it’s such a wordplay to place into a brand personality.

    @Iconic88 you said it fabulously:
    “Agencies have to understand their clients brands better than the brand owners themselves to create a compelling narrative that touches people, to move people to a higher level of consciousness”

    On the other side, confidence provides assurance of the brand while remaining approachable. In essence, I don’t think you want to become a egocentric corporation. Where am I coming from?
    Well, arrogance to your brand will probably need to be fed constantly with an overbearing self-importance. While confidence will likely be more of a trust, or faith, in your company.

    Usually, if you are truly confident in your brand (or your company’s ability to beat another), it isn’t necessary to inform them of that. You just do it. I find that arrogant brands think everything is a personal vendetta and they always have to prove themselves. On the other hand, confidence is a sense of pride in competition but, it is not a controlling personality flaw. Confident people do not always think it is necessary to prove themselves!

    I admire your work Gary but this is one concept I have to challenge you on.


  7. Thanks, Mahei. You're right . Your end game should determine your tone of voice. It always fascinates me how some brands achieve success using different strategies. As power shifts to consumers its even more interesting to watch brands adjust their tone of voice. For them, this is unfamiliar territory and its hard to know how confidently to speak. That said, in my mind, if a brand uses its core values as a compass, it can say what it wants and loudly as it can, because its authentic and designed to benefit all.

    Thanks for the great feedback, Simon

  8. Avatar Iconic88 says:

    Locking in knowing a brand's core values as a compass is a MUST. This is not a choice on the social web. It's a prerequisite for success. Even if people can't relate to your brand's core values, then those aren't the people you need in your community.

    There are plenty of people who will love what you stand for and more importantly from a business standpoint, pay for you to stay in the market through longterm purchases and loyalty. They'll even help you build your brand by telling people about you. Co-creation, co-education, and co-munication is what it's about now. Take the higher ground in the emotional fields of happiness and wisdom, own it then observe what happens.

    Agencies have to understand their clients brands better than the brand owners themselves to create a compelling narrative that touches people, to move people to a higher level of consciousness. Airy fairy some say. I say, this is where happiness is and it can be measured by the ripples brands make in the world for good.

    Welcome to the world of the 5th Bottom Line.


  9. Spot on, Mahei, for so many reasons. A global community necessitates a collective consciousness and shared responsibility for all our well being. Brands have a role to play here. That role is not just conscionable, it's good business. It's our job to help them get there. Fantastic feedback. Thx.

  10. Avatar Dan Root says:

    Another great interview with Gary – very insightful.

  11. Thanks, Gary. Glad it was helpful.

  12. Agreed. Your goals should drive your focus and community will help you get there. Thanks, Jye.

  13. Thanks, Jane and I completely support your distinction. I think confidence is always warranted when it comes to a value proposition behind a brand. But pure self interest by a brand never deserves unwarranted attention. Sizzle never trumps substance. So yes, if a brand know what's meaningful to it and its customers, they should shout it from the rooftops. Thanks Jane, Simon

  14. […] to someone who leaves a comment in the next week. And if you want more of Gary, check out the interview we did about arrogance, ad agencies and the one thing brands need to know. As always, thanks for […]