My five year old daughter noted while we were driving that the pizza delivery person next to us was smoking in his car with the windows up and with pizzas on the seat next to him. Her response was "Dad, I never want to order pizza from that place because the pizza will taste like cigarette smoke."
What was interesting was that I'd never considered that a pizza delivery person might smoke in the delivery vehicle (even when they use their own car) with my food. Smoking isn't allowed in restaurants here nor in the kitchens, logic would extend that to delivery vehicles.
I reported this on my facebook page and nearly universally people agreed with my daughter, don't order from that place. Some pointed out that the bags that keep the pizza warm are mostly sealed so not a lot of smoke would get in. Yet others recounted horror stories of tainted food (Think Dominos (in)Famous Pizza Video)
But whether or not the pizza is tainted by the smoke (and I believe it is) the bigger issue is that neither I nor my daughter (who has now told her mom, her aunt, and the neighbor) will order pizza from this particular company because PERCEPTION IS REALITY.
I recently traveled through Montana interviewing business owners and met some amazing people and I also observed people being very difficult to do business with . . . and I heard them talking about how tough it was to make money in this economy. Again, perception is reality, if I feel it is difficult to do business with you I probably won't or at least not again.
A big hit to your brand is most likely surmountable but the little things that you don't notice or ignore are chipping away at the foundation of your business and will destroy it.
What is it that you are not attending to that is chipping away at your success?
Look around and fix it.
In branding yourself or your business, Perception IS reality.