I often get falsely accused of being “anti-marketing” when in reality I value marketing as much as the top marketers and leaders in the world, I just see marketing as a piece to a larger puzzle rather than the “‘end all” solution. In my travels I come across too many leaders focused so much on positioning and messaging and not focused enough on what it truly takes to deliver a differentiated experience to employees and customers. In my opinion, at least 90% of the time your employees and customers are going to judge your company and its products and services by the experience they have with it and 10% or less by what you tell and market to them. A brand is not built through marketing messages, it is built though people and process held together by employee day-to-day behaviors.
Let me share with you a quick story about the power of brand-behavior.
Recently I was in Florida visiting a well-known restaurant chain that serves bagels. My family had ordered dinner, but I also wanted to take six bagels home. I went to the takeout line to place the order. While the sales clerk was packing the bagels, I noticed she was putting them into a large, expensive box suited for 12 to 24 bagels.
I said to her: “Please don’t waste that costly box on my bagels—a smaller bag will do.” Her response was appalling: “It’s OK, I’m not paying for it.”
Ouch! My immediate thought: “Well, I’m paying for it!”
Now, I’m fairly certain this attitude and behavior wasn’t taught during the company’s training and orientation session. But it clarifies the root cause of this imbalance between what the brand stands for and reality. Quite simply: Employees don’t see themselves as a vital part of the company brand.
Simply put, if you are not managing behaviors employees do and experiences employees and customers have, then you are not managing your company brand. It doesn’t matter what the restaurant’s marketing said, the employee’s behavior undercut all of it!