The lesson for all of us is that brands are built not just through external communications but also through the quality of the product itself and of the company behind it, including the behavior of staff and the nature of the whole customer experience.
The old adage "actions speak louder than words" has clearly been lost on those marketing people who prefer to focus on advertising, PR or design at the expense of behavior or product capability. A popular myth is that brands are about logos. Of course, design is important in presenting a confidant and consistent face but ask yourself, do people really buy Leviís jeans because of the logo? Did All Bar One revolutionize the pub just with the sign above the front door?
This is common sense. A sandwich shop doesnít become a Pret a Manger by adopting its signage -- or even by introducing red-topped barstools and mirrored walls. Legally it could be part of the same chain, but if the service wasnít up to scratch, people would say, ďThis isnít what I expect from Pret.Ē Worse still, if this happened a few times, customer perceptions of Pret itself -- the Pret brand -- would be damaged.
This is also where rebranding can fall down. There are, of course, good reasons for wanting a facelift, whether itís a deep-seated urge for change or a fundamental feeling that things are not right. But the trouble with many facelifts is that is all they are a change of face without a change of substance. When the core is rotten, changing what's on the surface will have minimal impact on the brand -- on peopleís perceptions.
For any business involved in building a brand, achieving internal understanding (and better still, engagement with) the brand is essential. If a staff understands its role in contributing towards the brand -- and if they agree with the intended direction of the brand -- youíre well on the way to delivering a consistent experience.
The merger of easyJet and Go demonstrates just how hard this task can be. Itís only a matter of a few months since Go aircrew referred to its new owner as "the nasty orange company" in its cabin announcements, so itís difficult to imagine that particular integration going smoothly! The merged company can (and presumably will) update the liveries of its aircraft and provide its staff with new uniforms, but thatís only the start.
Businesses need to see themselves as brand owners, and to understand the importance of doing whatever is necessary, not only through customer communications but internally as well, to enhance and protect one of their most precious assets -- the way they are seen by others.