Do you really Walk the Talk of your Brand?

Vol 10 No.4
By Roger Harrop

I was reminded the other day of a story my father told me. In the 1950s the owner of the company he worked for had a Rolls-Royce and he and his wife were travelling through France when broke down (something that happened regularly to cars at that time). He contacted Rolls Royce who responded immediately, put them up in a local five star hotel and sent two mechanics to France to fix the vehicle.On returning to home, my Dad’s boss wrote a letter to Rolls-Royce applauding them for their efficiency and thanking them for their speedy and excellent response to the car breakdown. A few days later he received a letter from the Managing Director of Rolls-Royce which said simply:”Dear Sir, Thank you for your letter. However, I fear you must be mistaken since Rolls-Royce motor cars never break down”At that time the Rolls-Royce brand was synonymous with the very highest quality and without question a motor car that was 100% reliable.  I am quite sure that every single person who worked with or for RR believed passionately that their cars were the best in the world and I bet the great majority did believe they never broke down.That was the culture of Rolls Royce, that was the mystique of Rolls Royce – what we today would call it’s brand – but not just the outward manifestation of it’s brand but, vitally, internally also. There is no question that the fundamental brand culture was embedded in the DNA of Rolls-Royce and of every single employee. Recently I have read a lot about brands and branding and the processes and procedures that one supposedly has to go through to establish your brand in the marketplace. I really do wonder about some of that since for your brand to be authentic and durable surely it has to be a true reflection of your culture and your culture is a reflection of your people. You must Walk the Talk of your brand.

This has to start at the top with you. You have to be seen to passionately believe in what your organisation represents. Everyone in the company has then to believe in that brand and what it stands for if it is really to be what you want it to be – a differentiator that quite simply allows you to sell more and charge more. I’m always amazed when I go into a Pret a Manger coffee  shop in the UK.  The staff are always cheerful, friendly and helpful – no matter if it’s 6:30 in the morning or last thing at night and somehow they always manage to make sure that you leave with a smile. Yes their sandwiches are remarkable and their coffee is very good but their brand represents much more than that. As a result I go out of my way to find a Pret (and I use their app to do so ) rather than go to one of their competitors. In the same way if ever I go into an Apple Store I find that every Apple employee – even the most geekiest geek – somehow oozes Apple, oozes the Apple culture and gives a very clear impression that they won’t sleep at night unless they have ensured that you leave being totally satisfied with your experience with them and with Apple. In these times when there is little to differentiate between products and services, I do believe increasingly the differentiator has to be your people  – whether we’re talking B2C or B2B. It has to do with the way they have been trained and the way they believe in the culture and brand of the organisation they work. That belief is infectious and rubs off on every customer they ever interact with no matter what position or role they have in the company.- and of course a prerequisite for your people to truly believe in and to be missionaries for your brand is that your company has to be a great place to work.You may recall that I have recently become Chairman of Cosatto. They regularly use TINYpulse (which I would recommend very highly) to survey the staff at all levels about anything that might be relevant at the time. Here are some employee quotes from a recent anonymous internal TINYpulse survey: “I feel happy everyday to be working for such a fabulous, caring, generous company. Everybody seems to work as a team, support each other and really pull together at times of need.” “I absolutely LOVE Cosatto””This is a great place to be, relaxed and happy, there is help around every corner and always someone to have a laugh with and lose the stress of the day.

The management team feel like just one of the family until you need guidance and a decision, they are easy to approach and very constructive in advice, they give guidance and help you to come to a decision so you are not told what to do, you are helped to make a choice and this builds your confidence.” The Cosatto culture and brand have come directly from Andrew Kluge the owner and CEO and the Board. It’s something they work extremely hard at. For your brand to give you the differentiation and added value you seek  you must be seen to consistently, seamlessly and massively walk the talk through every single person in the company. Do you?

A few weeks ago I had the honour to give a keynote speech at the BCCT‘Back2Business’ event in Istanbul and also to work with iS Bank – Turkey’s largest and with an unusual ownership – they are owned solely by their own employee pension scheme. Incidentally this photo is the view over Istanbul and the Bosphorus from the top of their fabulous HQ where I spoke.

It’s the first time I had been to Istanbul for many years and what I found was a city that is thriving, vibrant and affluent. Turkey is a country which is on the march – with an economy that I do believe will soon be amongst the top in the world as everyone is predicting.

It was a most impressive place and business community with which to spend time. Talking of an impressive business community, I’ve also been back recently to Ethiopia to work with the National Oil Company and with Zemen Bank top teams. This is a country which has been one of the poorest in the world but is now the fastest growing in Africa. I found a ‘can-do’ attitude throughout business and business people where generations of technology and experience are being hurdled in the drive to develop business, the nation as a whole and people in it. It is a most invigorating place to be. And that leads me to mention the magnificent Ella Forums. Ella’s purpose is to inspire and develop the leaders of Charities and Social Enterprises to grow their organisations. They have groups of Not for Profit CEOs around the country and I spoke to around 70 of them at their annual conference in London.  “Not for Profit” is, of course, a misnomer – they are Not for Profit Distribution organisations – which means 100% of their profits are reinvested into growth. That means, of course, that they, like all the rest of us, need to have a similar business focus – as I refer to in my new book – most particularly the bottom line if they are to grow and achieve the maximum for their beneficiaries. I was very excited to finally publish my new book in October: “Win – How to Succeed in the New Game of Business”

 I’m overwhelmed by the response I’m getting to it – I currently have over 30 great reviews on Amazon and sales are going well. In addition my keynote speech, seminar and a master class all of the same title have received really excellent responses wherever I have given them.

If you would like a copy of the book it’s available on your local Amazon site either as paperback or Kindle or EPub versions from Apple Store and elsewhere. I wrote it with the intention that it would become a ‘manual’ for you to use and regularly refer back to and to and help you achieve the success you strive. It comes with all kinds of added value by a way of white papers, animations, videos and its own app and if you haven’t seen it already do have a look at my video introduction to the book here:

'WIN - how to succeed in the new game of business' book intro
‘WIN – how to succeed in the new game of business’ book intro

You can order a paperback or Kindle copy of the book from Amazon or Epub from the Apple Store and elsewhere.

Finally I was recently interviewed onTotalPicture Radio in Chicago – mainly around recruiting and ensuring you really are a great place to work.

Do have a listen – you may be surprised by what you hear!

I hope you enjoy this newsletter and find it valuable.

Thank you for your support!
Roger Harrop