The Basic Unit of Branding Is Interaction

Children with Elena Budassi
Photo by Giorgio Minguzzi via Flickr

How you treat people, and their response to you, is your brand.

You ought to look consistent, talk consistent, do things in a consistent way, have a consistent name. Your mission should be consistent.

But at the end of the day you are judged by the quality of your human dealings.

It is very easy to mouth off in theory about the importance of being nice to people. But that is not what I mean.

Rather it is about achieving consistency in terms of your dealings with others. If they know what to expect and value the result you now have a usable brand.

--For example when you go to a club in New York the bouncer will often refuse you entry. You will go back!

--In a fancy department store they will wait on you hand and foot even if you are rude. Perhaps especially so. You will go back!

--When you interact with law enforcement they will treat you worse if you are disrespectful. You keep doing that and they will bring you back - to the police station! And that is exactly what you want, for them to insist on the proper deference that comes with a society ruled by law and order.

In organizational life this issue comes into play with respect to teaming.

If you are going to promote collaboration as your brand this is a delicate promise involving fidelity at every level and every instance of interaction.

Just one failure to to team - just one demonstration of self-interest, or lack of accountability - kills it. And it can be very difficult to revive.

When you interact with people, think about what you want them to come away with. Everything you say and do has to build that desire perception.

Conversely if they treat you differently than you want them to, it is up to you to teach them the boundaries.

If you find that your desires brand isn't working in real interactions, perhaps it is time to course-correct. Only build a brand that you CAN support - consistently.

Have a good day everyone - and good luck!

Branding In Times of Class Conflict

Photo by me

Fancy coffee shop. This one happens to be Caribou, but it could be Starbucks or any other.

For some it is a hideout because they have nowhere else to go.

For others it's a quick stop, drop $5, on the way to well-paying job.

Society is way too divided right now between rich and poor...some are wealthy beyond wealth and many are hopeless and desperate.

How will we bridge the gap?

When the 99% and the 1% have completely opposite lives and there is no understanding or reconciliation between them, the meaning of ordinary things like brands becomes contested.

Even a seemingly simple coffee shop can become a hotbed of social conflict.

When was the last time you complained about a non-payer taking your seat at Starbucks?

When two societies live together side by side, and there is no discussion or equity between them, that's a recipe for conflict not easily resolved.

For brands to be successful in this climate, they must commit to giving something back. For example:

1. Tithing percentage of profits to charity

2. Employing members of the local community

3. Partnering with other local businesses to foster employment

4. Setting aside some product for those who can't afford to pay

5. Establishing different product lines so that everyone can afford something

Other more advanced possibilities:

1. Communal tables or seating areas

2. Hosting television screenings, book clubs, etc.

3. Providing a space for community organization and activism

The economics of brand-building demand that as you grow, you give back, and as you give back, you grow.

Anything less is not just a reputation risk, but a recipe for becoming irrelevant as more enlightened businesses take over.

Good luck!

Top 10 Quotes from Remarks by Dr. Madeleine Albright at USAID Today (April 2, 2012)

Photo from Wikipedia

I was fortunate to witness Dr. Madeleine Albright, the first female Secretary of State, give this speech. Three parts that stand out:

  • When she talked about waiting to "get the call" from the President - nerve-racking! And the "hold music"...
  • Remembering being a "carpool Mom" who "did my share of photocopying." She found it hard to believe that being Secretary of State could really happen to her.
  • How her granddaughter, upon hearing she was going to give this speech, is a product of the feminist movement and so said something to the effect of, "What's the big deal about being a female Secretary of State?"
Dr. Albright was emphatic that feminism is really about both women and men partnering to "hold up the sky" together, not a "war of the sexes" - counterproductive.
In any case, here are the highlights (obviously all this is personal opinion - not representing the agency in this post):

  1. "Gender-based discrimination is neither inevitable nor acceptable; bigotry and chauvinism can be overcome."
  2. "There is a direct linkage between extreme poverty and the under-valuing of women; we cannot defeat one without attacking the other.
  3. "No country can build a healthy and growing economy or establish a true democracy if half its people are held back, pushed aside, left behind, or beaten up."
  4. "More than a century ago, Abraham Lincoln declared that a nation divided against itself cannot stand. Today we can say that a country that denies power to its women will never reach its potential."
  5. "Too often, the innocent-whether women, children, or men--are forced to play the role of victim, a part they do not choose, but in the absence of power, cannot escape."
  6. "The good news is that progress toward freedom, prosperity and justice can be made when democratic countries refuse to accept anything less, when brave people stand together, and when agencies such as USAID receive the backing they need to help."
  7. "The equality that matters most can neither be fully encompassed by statistics, nor based on the idea that women and men are somehow identical, which of course they are not."
  8. "In the strictest sense, equality is an insufficient goal because equality in misery is still misery."
  9. "We are, of course, mindful that progress in ending discrimination occurs step by step and that each victory becomes a platform upon which the next may be built."
  10. "Our shared task is to keep building until we have raised enough platforms high enough to transform the very horizons of the Earth."
Official source here.

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