Mark Jamroz
Mark Jamroz
March 24, 2016
Are termites eating your brand?

I remember once, years ago, watching a commercial about termites. The advertisement showed a colony of termites hidden in the wall of a home, chewing away while the homeowner sat in an adjacent room, reading a magazine, blissfully unaware of the danger just inches away.

Is the same thing happening to your brand?

A while back, my wife purchased me a blazer from a department store that had changed hands a few years prior. Unfortunately, she bought regular length sleeves, momentarily forgetting that I wore a long. Easy enough. The store was on the way home from work. A simple exchange would do the trick.

I made my way to the menswear section and was met by an outgoing and energetic salesperson. He whisked into action, cheerfully searching the racks for a 40-long. No luck. Taking the next step, he offered to call one of their other locations to see if they had my size. Success! They had it. The downside was that store was 30 miles away.

I asked if they could have it sent here and we’d make the exchange later in the week. Good plan, but that wasn’t the new owner’s policy.

Then the termites started chewing. This cheerful sales associate launched into a tirade against the new owners, disparaging the new policy which didn’t allow my obviously better suggestion. No, according to the company-centric (as opposed to customer-centric) policy of the new owners, I would have to return the jacket I had, then go to the other store to re-purchase the one in my size. If that wasn’t bad enough, the sales associate wouldn’t stop disparaging the new owners. While he was right in his opinion about their policy, he was wrong to criticize the new owners in front of a customer.

Branding begins from within. If you’re a brand manager, do you know if you have termites on your staff? Do you know what your employees are saying about your brand? Have you even given them the right script? Are your policies company- or customer-centric? Those four strikes can reduce the foundation of your brand to sawdust faster than you’d think.

By the way, I never did make that 30-mile trip to get the jacket in my size. Your loss.