Don’t Tase Me Bro: Policing the Brand
Everybody is creative. I know some of you are looking over your shoulders to see if I’m pointing at someone behind you, but it’s true. In some way, shape or form we are all creative. Now, I’m not talking smock-wearing, nose-piercing, hair-spiking creative. I mean that 99% of us feel the urge to put our own personal stamp on the things we see and work with everyday. We want to make unique formats for our reports, add fun and personal items to our office décor, emblazon our cars with decals, make interesting email signatures, or take casual Friday to new levels.
It is human nature to want to be recognized as an individual. And, that’s a good thing. But, it is also important to recognize that Joe, the individual, and Joe, the representative of the company and its brand, are not the same entity. Since many of us spend so much time connected to work, the line separating our off-duty personality and our work persona blurs. This can be where worlds collide.
For a company (whether it’s a corporation or your own business), its image or brand is an asset to be developed, protected and nurtured to maintain its value, integrity and impact. Consistency is king to make the brand’s personality shine through and be instantly recognizable.
So, how do you get employees to willingly and eagerly let their own personalities take a back seat to the brand? A handy way is to think of the Five Ws:
- Why: explain the rationale and benefit of keeping the brand consistent.
- Who: encourage everyone to be ambassadors of the brand when on the job or at a company event; lead by example—it must be embraced from top management on down.
- What: Make the brand guidelines clear, complete and well publicized, so people know what is expected and how to execute correctly. If you leave a void, it is in our creative natures to fill it.
- When: All the time. How you answer the phone, the way your email signature looks, what you wear, what the lobby looks like, what type of promotional materials you use, your advertising messages and collateral materials all need to consistently follow the spirit and guidelines of the brand.
- Where: Everywhere the company is represented.
Of course, ultimately, someone has to be the brand police, but don’t make the brand or marketing department the bad guys. It’s up to everyone to know the rules and self-police as much as possible. If you don’t rely on someone else to enforce the rules, you won’t be the one yelling, “Don’t tase me, bro!”