What A Difference A Brand Makes

Tina Featured PerspectivesWould you open your front door and let a perfect stranger into your home? That was a decision Anne Stone, PPAI’s director of public affairs, had to make recently.

Anne stayed home from work one day late last year to meet a technician who was supposed to update her home security system. He never got the chance.

Here’s what happened. When the technician arrived, Anne opened her door and saw a man wearing scruffy jeans and a blank hoodie over a plain t-shirt. Nothing about this man identified him as from the national security company he represented. His truck, parked on the curb, was a plain-sided panel truck with a ladder on the back. Again, there was no signage or branding to identify him as with the company. He claimed that he was a subcontractor for the security company, but was he? How could she tell? Anne wouldn’t let him in and called the company to reschedule.

How different would the situation have been if the man had been wearing even a single piece of branded apparel identifying him as with the security company? His affiliation would have been immediately recognizable if he had worn a branded shirt, jacket or cap or if he was holding a branded clipboard. He could have added to his credibility if his truck had a magnetic banner on it or a logoed decal.

Instead of greeting the representative of a leading home security company arriving for an appontment, Anne saw a stranger and her instincts kicked in—as they should have.

What was especially ironic about this situation is that this man’s job is to make people’s homes more secure. However, because he lacked any kind of company-logoed apparel or branding, his appearance had quite the opposite effect on this homeowner.

Did this man represent the image the security company wanted to portray? Is Anne’s reaction the one companies want their customers to have?

After Anne mentioned this to me, I began looking closer at how companies that work with the public outfit their employees. I’ve been in restaurants where all employees are wearing logoed shirts and caps, and somehow the restaurant looks more orderly and sparkles a bit more than those without branded apparel. The guy who comes to clean my carpet immediately looks more professional and knowledgeable in his collared shirt with its neatly embroidered logo on the chest. Even the auto mechanic who sells me a new air filter looks like he knows what he’s talking about in his well-worn branded cap.

A brand differentiates a service or product—and those who provide, sell, install or build them. A strong brand is invaluable as a marketing tool because it’s the company’s promise to the customer. But a brand is not only important to customers, it’s also important to employees because it makes them feel a part of the organization and helps solidify their loyalty.

How different would Anne’s experience have been if the technician who arrived on her doorstep was outfitted to professionally represent the company? One thing is for sure—she would have been a much happier customer.

filed under march-2016 | ppb
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