I’ve Avoided Naming Names in This Article to Protect the “Brand Guilty.”

Protecting the Brand Guilty

By Jennifer Holland, Certified Brand Strategist, Holland People+Brands

First, let me apologize. If you’re reading this, and it seems like I am talking about you, I’m sorry. I don’t want to embarrass you.

But, you know who you are.

I was at an open house recently, and a service provider was showing off their latest high-tech equipment acquisition.

It was quite impressive. I had never visited this location, and I was liking what I was seeing. I thought this provider might be a good business partner for us.

I began mingling—just talking with other folks who were there—and I asked one of the provider’s employees what the machine does.

She responded, “Oh, I don’t know. I’m just the receptionist.”

Yikes, I thought. Bad answer. You can expect that kind of response from time to time, so I thought I had probably just asked the wrong person.

Then, I asked someone else.

“I don’t know. The production guys deal with that thing,” he said.

If I were texting this article, I suppose this is where I would emote “OMG!” I won’t belabor the point, but this happened several more times that night with different employees, which is why I perhaps made a mistake.

The owner of the company greeted me, and we chatted for a while. He was quite pleasant, and he asked many questions about my business. He expressed an interest in what we do and how we could help him with his brand.

I thought I would try to help by telling him about my experiences asking his staff simple questions.

His response: “Oh, they don’t work with that machine.”

I suggested he write a simple “elevator speech” for his employees to say in their own words, which could eliminate the chance of an “I don’t know” answer in front of potential prospects. He actually made fun of the idea—not once, but several times throughout the night.

In fact, he broke away from our conversation by saying, “Well, I’m going to go get some more from the buffet. Then maybe I’ll have one of my employees give an elevator speech about cheese dip.”

He thought that was funny.

There you have it. It all starts at the top. From the top down, this company’s culture doesn’t stress how important it is for every employee to be able to explain in casual conversation what the company does and why it exists. It’s really no surprise, according to Gallup only 28% of employees agreed to the statement: “I know what my company stands for and what makes our brand(s) different from our competitors.”

Moreover, this owner was unwilling even to see it.

The truth is—whether for his company, your company, or any company—there are two choices:

You either brand…or you’ll be branded.

This company is branded by the lack of care its employees have for their business. The people—the face of the organization—haven’t taken five minutes to memorize simple answers to common questions.

What else are they too “busy” to do?

I have no idea. And, won’t choose to find out. It doesn’t matter how badly he thinks he wants to work with us, he is not a client partner for us.

That’s a shame. It’s also their fault.

Don’t let it be yours. Go forth…and brand!