What Brand are Your “People”?

Brand of Starbucks Barista

You know what I mean…Starbucks Baristas are hip and cool, albeit a little snarky. Panera’s team members will stop and ask how you are doing…and actually stay and listen. At Trader Joe’s, you can count on someone saying “follow me” and walking you to the location if you ask where something is. At Walmart…Hello?! Are there any employees on the floor? Hello?!

What’s your brand, and how do you work with partners, staff or consultants to convey it?

As head of Promotions for the Chicago Department of Aviation (think dinosaur in Terminal 1 at O’Hare, or suspended SBD Dauntless at Midway) we had a sign on our door with a big smile that said “How May We Help You?” That approach applied to whether we were greeting potential exhibitors and cultural institutions from around the City, or the laborers, carpenters and electricians who would help us with installations (aka do all of the heavy lifting while we said things like “move it a little to the left, no-back right, left…perfect!”)

Of course not everything always went as planned–it is the world’s busiest airport. One day when something went particularly awry, the team member in charge, wanting to scream instead of calmly resubmitting multiple work orders, asked: “Why do we always have to be the nice ones!?”

Well, because that was our brand.

And, for us, who needed creative partners to install interesting exhibits and host evens in a security focused, rule-oriented environment, it paid off. So when the work order was submitted to install several cows in the terminals as part of the City’s Cows on Parade program, the answer was not “that’s not in our job description,” but rather “Hey, can we paint one too?”


What’s your brand? How does it come across in all of your doings? How do you use it as a lens when selecting (or training) partners or employees?

Social media and web presence is the voice of your brand personified online.

Of course consistent logo, color scheme, typeface and the like are important to being recognized, but what about how brand gets conveyed through content? That is often a question that comes up when clients have more than one person on staff who is posting to social media, or when an organization is just getting started and needs to establish their point of view (POV) on a subject.

That’s when branding guidelines or “gauge questions” can help, including identifying and prioritizing the areas of expertise that you will talk about, as well as taking time to articulate what you would never post or talk about.

For example, if your area of expertise is Autism, are you about early intervention? Are you concerned or advocating around the causes of Autism (which may include things that are irreversible) or are you helping and giving hope to parents with ways to improve behaviors or learning associated autism. Plenty of information abounds on the Internet about both POV’s–but which one or you?

Not sure? Or need an “objective outsider” to create guidelines and get your team on the same page? Contact us to learn how to create a “branding cheat sheet” for your business or organization.