August 22, 2017

Brand Vs. Brand

I spoke with a young man last week who has been quite disgruntled with the company he has dedicated the first three years of his career life to. He spoke about top leaders who are being seen as too political and who are physically and emotionally removed from the “minions” of the company. He talked of separation, silos and a lack of mutual respect. Of course, the word “minion” and the tone of sarcasm in his voice quickly told me to me that he was speaking about the subordinate workers in the company and that he was including himself in this group.

I then asked him what it was that attracted him to the company. His response “The company has strong brand equity.” Because I know a bit about this quite well known company, I immediately began to wonder if the public perception of this brand as being one that lives in integrity was really matching up with what was going on inside the company. From the water fountain to the mail room to the board room, I started wishing I could be a fly on the wall for a few days to see what was really going on.

I am not going to mention the name of this company today, but guess what…if this story is true, one day soon someone who is inside the company will speak publicly about this lack of brand alignment, and it will probably happen in a blog post just like this one. In this day and age, if your public brand (the one you market to the end customer) does not match up with the way you treat your employees, your lovely company could turn into a very bad dream overnight. Just imagine yourself…the CEO of a company, you piss off a few “minions”, and the next day, the bloggers, podcasters and video gurus come out of the closet and begin telling the public the real story about your company and the way you treat people.

If you are reading this blog post today, I want to ask you to sit down with your top decision makers and put your brand under a microscope. If you say that you value innovation, what are you doing to offer challenging and creative opportunities for your employees? If you say you value customer service, are you also rolling out the red carpet for your employees? If you say you value integrity, are you doing the right thing, even when no one is looking?

I believe that brands are strengthened or weakened with every customer interaction…and your customers include your employees and anyone who touches your business. As leaders, we must embody the promises we make to our customers, employees, stakeholders, venture partners, vendors and family members..

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