Brand Engagement

The New Face of Your Brand

sad smiley faceI had a recent experience with the new service 800 Got Junk that demonstrates how organizations are going to have to take an entirely new look at the definition of their brands. If you don’t know the service, it’s at face value, a great way to get rid of unwanted anything in a hurry. Just call the toll-free number and, depending on your location, chances are within a day or two the company will schedule an appointment to come by and take it away. The price is based simply on the percentage of the truck your garbage requires.

It worked exactly as advertised. I scheduled the appointment with a friendly customer service representative within minutes; a friendly and upbeat crew chief and team arrived as promised, communicating with me in advance by phone, and demonstrating an air of “ready-to-go” efficiency. The job was complete in an astonishingly short time, and we arrived at a cost that seemed fair.

Then came the moment of truth. Upon paying him and giving him a tip, I asked the driver how he liked working for the company. His enthusiasm dipped a bit. He said he was grateful to have a job in this economy but that the pay was just okay…that the tips were critical to make ends meet…and that he had had several injuries that required operations and therapy due to the repetitive lifting and moving. “Oh, well you have health insurance,” I pointed out. “No,” he said. He depends on his wife’s health insurance program. “But,” he added, “I’ve got a great boss, and he looked the other way at the time I had to take off for the surgery and rehabilitation.”

What made him stay, I asked, given what seems to me a cruel act of omission from a company whose work puts such obvious wear and tear on its employees. “My boss,” he said. “He’s a great guy…I’m sure I’d leave without him, and even sooner if the economy improves.”

So I asked him one more question as he walked out the door. “What do you guys do with all of these computer monitors and processes?” He cheerfully reported that that “they crush them up into tiny bits.” So, this wonderful company bangs up employees and leaves it to someone else to pay for their care and on top of it possibly makes a significant contribution to landfill pollution, a cost all of us bear in one way or another.  Suddenly, the service didn’t seem so wonderful to me any more.

In the old days, it would be easy for a company to get away with painting a pleasant efficient face in its advertising and customer service, but today’s its growing more and more difficult to hide the truth. I gladly would have paid $10 or $20 or more if I knew that the employees got health care and that the company properly disposed of toxic waste, and would have probably written a glowing report here and told a dozen friends about the service.

Instead I got a look at the type of hypocrisy that has more and more people angry about corporate America, and a stunning example of the realities of the new brand architecture: it’s not just about advertising, logos, and uniforms anymore: it’s about the soul of your organization.

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