DINOSAURS, TERRORISTS AND A FIGHT ON A PLANE
Was it a fight? A terrorist? Drunk passenger? Nope. It was just a normal guy being dragged off of a plane because the airline overbooked the flight. He was trying to get home – that was his crime. This is what the storyline looked like for every passenger on United Flight 3411, and then again for every person in the world who doesn’t live under a rock. Today’s corporations better wake up! The old dinosaurs that don’t think brand matters better wake up before they become extinct. Brand drives everything! Brand drives everything! Brand drives everything!
Every company is one employee mistake away from a brand crisis. What do you do when your personal or company brand is in crisis? When you make a mistake and you recognize it – immediately apologize. Simple, right? Nope. Nothing is that easy. An apology, a real apology, means you don’t give excuses and you immediately do what you can to show you are going to make right the wrong.
Explanation and training follow. In the long run, you will not be remembered for the mistake if you handle it well and rectify the situation immediately and authentically. Employee actions create the largest brand crisis moments for most companies. As we saw with United, it can be the actions taken with a few employees that changes a brand forever. Policies are what they are, but brand will dictate how they are or are not implemented. “Fly the friendly skies” is the slogan implemented in 1965 in order to show their customers that they would ‘show the public our warm ‘good-guy’ genuine concern side, as well as the efficient side they already appreciate in us.’
Slogans, brand statements, value statements and mission statements mean nothing without training and explanation. The purpose of a brand is to establish value within and outside of the company – allow everyone associated with the company to share who they are and to communicate the brand in every single communication be it non-verbal, written or spoken. Brand creates consistency, trust and ensures brand success. When employees know what the brand means for them, in their daily interactions, it will build the brand and create a message that holds up the brand creating a solid foundation. This enables people to say it was a one-time mistake versus assuming mistakes happen all the time.
The most important person who should know and live the company brand is the CEO, followed by every member of the C-suite. Even the board of directors needs to know the company brand or their advice is going go lead to failure. Brand training would have taught employees what ‘genuine concern, warm and friendly’ meant when dealing with one another, the public and their customers. Brand training ensures that everyone knows how to handle all types of situations.
United should follow these steps:
- Ensure the doctor is taken care of and settle.
- Brand Audit.
- What is the brand?
- Who are we?
- Who do we want to be?
- What do we need to do to get there?
- Re-brand. Do nothing until a re-brand has taken place. We are NOT talking about logos, colors or font here. This may mean changing everything – culture, slogan, brand value statements, mission and more. Typically, this means creating brand value statements and/or brand attributes – adjectives that describe the brand and give direction. This step takes some time and must not be rushed.
- Brand Guide. Create a brand guide for all employees that shows them what the brand is, what it means to them, how their own personal brands can grow or destroy the corporate brand and then show them how to communicate each brand attribute or value statement. Brand dictates culture – not the other way around.
- Brand Training. If an employee is not trained to know what is expected of them, disaster and confusion are around the bend. It is not enough to have a brand manual in a world where brand can be decimated with one poor communication signal including behavior, presentation, speech, image, fashion, presence, email, vocal tone and non-verbal communication. Relationships can quickly dull, brand is decimated, companies close and sales are lost.
People define brand attributes differently, and to achieve consistency at all communication levels, employees must know what the brand expects of them in order for the company to succeed as well as help each individual reach their own goals of success personally and professionally. Highly successful companies know that the most influential brand touch points are the people responsible for delivering the entire brand experience within and outside of the company. Being able to clearly define the company brand helps all employees to communicate one message consistently, to better understand their role in the company, and how they play a vitally important part in the overall success of the business.
You may have a written brand, mission statement and/or brand attributes. Do your employees know what that means for them at the corporate headquarters as well as in the field? The answer 90% of the time is not only do they not know what it means for them, but they have no idea what the brand even is. Failure is certain in those cases.
For example, what does the Brand Attribute of excellence sound like for your company? (To colleagues and clients)
What does your brand attribute…
- Feel like?
- Look like?
- Email like?
- Dress like?
- Eat like?
- What is the tone of voice of your attribute?
- How does your brand follow-up?
- What is the daily goal of the brand?
- How does your brand look and act while traveling?
- How is it groomed? What does it wear? (Tip: Have an open dress code? Failure is going to happen without direction).
- How does your brand choose the words it uses when communicating?
If you don’t know what your brand is and cannot immediately share it – you haven’t defined one and you are allowing your employees and your customers define it for you.
Southwest knows its brand – have you seen the brand reviews? WOW. Read pages 26-27 of the Southwest magazine from January 2017. The story about the little girl – authentic, genuine, brand confirming and you can’t make that kind of stuff up. This happens all the time – the employees know the brand and they are empowered to communicate the brand. They are the leading brand in the air and an example for us all.
MODA Image and Brand Consulting has been helping companies communicate their brand, executives become relevant and employees become Brand Ambassadors for over 10 years. We would be honored to serve you.
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