Right after I realized I wasn’t going to be crushed by a furniture truck, I figured out a thing about brands that many companies forget. And that thing is that every action perpetrated near or by your brand should expect to generate an equal and opposite reaction.
So the furniture truck that changed lanes without checking to see if there was a cranky marketer in a Volkswagen next to it was creating a brand experience for me, and potentially for a few dozen emergency workers and the thousands of motorists who would slow for a good, morbid gawk at the carnage.
The company gets bonus points for having a “How do you like my driving?” sticker on the back. I realize now those are a taunt and not an invitation for feedback.
Similarly, the office supply company truck driver who blocked the entrance to the parking garage at a major customer and then treated the frustrated parkers to a variety of biologically impossible suggestions when asked to move, created a brand experience. This one cost his company a lucrative account because one of the people in the parking line was the P-Cuber in charge of the office supplies contracts.
We know that incompetent or impolite Customer Abuse Departments or technicians are responsible for a good portion of lost business, but we rarely think about the guy in the golf jacket.
There was one such guy standing next to my friend at a kids’ soccer tournament last fall. He was sporting a jacket from a production company she was considering for a project. But when she asked if he worked for the company, she was not prepared for the lengthy dissertation on the incompetence of the management, the short-sightedness of the owners, the questionable ethics of the sales teams and the unacceptably slow coffee machine in the lunch room. She was, however, more than prepared to remove them from the short list.
It’s also interesting that we don’t hesitate to yank endorsement contracts from celebrities who invent ever-lower common denominators or to withdraw from events that violate our ethical standards, but we never pay much attention to the employees, distributors and partners who interact on our behalf with customers and prospects.
Your branding agencies will happily take money to remind you that brands are the sum of values, trust and experience, I would argue that you are probably screwing up the third one, which is good news since that’s the one that is easiest to fix.
I would start with your employees. In fact, if I were in charge of such things, I would put a little sticker on every company vehicle, trinket or bit of clothing. And it would say this:
If your name, phone number and photo
were on this truck/jacket/mug/squishy ball
how would you behave?
Please go do that.
Bizmarketer is Elizabeth Williams
Follow me on Twitter @bizmkter
or email firstname.lastname@example.org