It is imperative that every company employee become the Custodian of the Brand. The whole concept of, “it’s not my job, I don’t do that,” is crazy! You have to hold the consumer’s hand even if another department owns the function. You have to bring the consumer comfort all the way to the point of transfer to the appropriate person who will deliver satisfaction. Look at it as though you are crossing the street with your four-year old child to your spouse on the other side. You do not let go of your child’s hand until he or she is in the safety of your spouse’s grasp.
To be a Custodian of the Brand, you have to embrace the brand and what it stands for. A consumer, a fan, or any individual you’re working with, has to have confidence in you and believe in you if there is any chance they are going to believe in the company and its brand. When you instill this feeling, it increases the likelihood that they will turn to you when they need your services, when they want to buy something, and when they want to be involved with an entity.
To be a Custodian of the Brand, make damn sure you deliver on all promises. This is key to building brand confidence. You must always be the custodian of the brand and you must always reek of what the brand stands for. In this case, not for what you personally stand for, but what the organization’s brand stands for (hopefully they are one in the same, but that is irrelevant to intended results). Always. The custodians of the brand can make or break the feelings of loyalty toward a brand. So vigilance is imperative.
I always recommend to my staff and students that when they work for an organization, they should learn every job within the company. When I started out in business working in radio, after I completed my responsibilities, I would ask other department heads if they needed help, which inevitably they did. Working that extra bit (more hours for no extra pay, by the way) helped me understand the inner workings of the organization much deeper, and made me be a better Custodian of the Brand.
To be a Custodian of the Brand, you must ensure the brand always equals what it stands for, not sometimes. The toughest part is to be consistent. It can’t be “one and done.” You can’t be perfect once and boot it the next five times. That will erode brand confidence. There has to be an ever-present consistency. As an aid to this, I told employees to always visualize the word, “BRAND” and place a big equal sign next to it. Then insert any action under consideration and think, “Do my actions equal what the brand is intended to stand for?” If it does, proceed. If not, stop and reevaluate your next course of action.
Now that Randy Moss is with the New England Patriots, would you ever expect him to say, “My team sucks, it’s an awful organization, I want nothing to do with them?” Would you expect Randy Moss to say, “You know what, I’m not feeling good, the ball is not being thrown to me too often?” He wouldn’t make either statement these days. In the past, while with the Vikings, he had been very vocal. But now, when you see Randy Moss at press conferences, he equals the brand. Everything that comes out of his mouth is brand-centric. He drinks the Kool Aid that Coach Belichick serves. Randy Moss is a Custodian of the Brand. You might say, “But wait Lou, he’s not in marketing” – but as I like to say, everyone in the organization has to be in marketing.
Randy Moss equals the brand because Coach Belichick demands it. And if he doesn’t like it, I’m positive Coach would say, “See you later.” The brand is more important than any individual. The team is more important than any one player. Any employee who does not embody the brand should be “fixed or nixed.” If that is the philosophy from above, then any employee can become a Custodian of the Brand. But it must be prerequisite to employment.
The biggest problem with folks both in corporations and in professional sports teams is when the people who work for the organization, especially in marketing departments, think that they are bigger than the brand, and act outside the brand identity. No one is bigger than the brand and everyone must fall in line – From ownership to groundskeeper. Everyone is a Custodian of the Brand.