You Are Your Brand Whether You Like It or Not

I recently participated in a Respectful Workplace training session and there are some good parallels between poor brand interaction and a harassment incident – the offender, the offended and the observer. Whether you realize it or not, you have a huge influence on the impression customers have on your brand. Specifically, the important responsibility you have as an ambassador of your brand.

Here’s a hypothetical situation to help illustrate my point:

Bill is a sales manager for a company. He has been with the company for years and has a great reputation both internally and externally with customers. He’s a great employee and is someone who consistently adds value.

One afternoon, at the end of a long week of sales calls, Bill and a co-worker are wrapping up a customer visit at their retail location. As they are leaving, someone asks them where to find an item in the store. Bill answers, “Sorry, we don’t work here” and continues out of the store, ready to begin his weekend and put the challenges of the week behind him.

“It is often the case not what the brand stands for, but what consumers perceive the brand stands for.”
-Sudio Sudarsan

It’s easy to see who the offender, the offended and the observer are. Bill obviously is the offender. He probably did not think much about this interaction, it had been a long week and he was tired. Really, no one might blame him for this. However, since he was wearing his company-branded shirt, it has an impact on the brand. Instead of being helpful and finding someone who could assist the customer, Bill gave the impression his brand was not helpful and only cared about itself.

The customer asking the question is the offended. While they might not truly be offended and also might not have thought much about it, there was a brand impression delivered and an opinion formed. This unhelpful interaction will have an impact on the brand.

Bill’s co-worker is the observer in this situation and has a responsibility to speak up. Hopefully, the co-worker has the awareness to see the interaction happening in real time and can address the situation right then and there, turning a potentially negative brand impression into a positive one.

This example exaggerates a brand interaction situation, but think of it in the context of your day during a phone call, an email or a customer lunch. All of these interactions have an impact on your brand and influence how your brand is perceived. And while it might not always be at the top of mind, it should always be in the back of your mind, guiding your words and actions.


Charlie_WellsHaving worked in marketing for more than seven years, Charlie Wells enjoys the challenge of brand strategy, particularly pulling insights from customers and consumers to develop smart, effective work. Between stints in advertising, he spent a total of five years in the restaurant business managing and running different establishments. When Charlie is not at his desk at KCG, he enjoys kayaking, camping and losing video games to his 5-year-old son and newborn daughter.