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  • Posted by: Tom Shanahan on Friday, April 26 2013 10:33 AM | Comments (0)

    George W Bush Library

    Artist rendering of the George W. Bush Presidential Library from the George W. Bush Foundation.

    With yesterday’s dedication of the George W. Bush Library, there’s been a lot of conversation around ’43 and his approval rating over time. One should look at this as an interesting examination of brand, and how behaviors—or lack thereof—are fundamental to shaping the reputation you want your brand to have.

    When W. left office five years ago in 2008, his approval rating had sunk to an abysmal 23 percent. That’s the lowest approval rating since Truman inched out 22 percent back in 1945 after the horrors of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. It may not be hard to remember why Bush’s numbers were that low, but what’s interesting is how they’ve risen since then. A recent Washington Post-ABC News poll reveals that his 23 percent approval rating has now risen to 47 percent.

    Of course, history tends to go easy on presidents the further they get from Pennsylvania Avenue, but Bush’s brand has also improved because of how he’s conducted himself in the public eye since sitting in the Oval Office. His “brand behaviors” have changed a great deal since 2008, and the public is responding.

    He’s acted with a cool sense of disconnect (something that many probably appreciate), but adds that, “I’m retired from politics (happily so, I might add), but not from public service.” He has demonstrated an unexpected amount of respect for our current president, thanked him publicly on many occasions and refrained from engaging in publicly criticizing him.

    These behaviors have helped to heal the wounds that some say he left on his own brand. While there will always be constituents who neither forget, nor forgive, his brand-approval is nonetheless on the rise. His strategy is working.

    He ended his remarks yesterday saying, “the success of a nation depends on the character of its people.” The same goes for brands. While Bush’s behaviors in office may have left him with some scars on his character, his behaviors since are slowly patching those up. 

    Tom Shanahan is an Associate Consultant at Interbrand New York.

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  • Posted by: Maryann Stump on Tuesday, May 25 2010 09:17 AM | Comments (0)

    The economy may be growing again, but most companies are still looking for ways to do more with less. Smart companies know that efficiency doesn’t come from cutting costs; efficiency comes from getting more from what they spend. One area that is commonly overlooked is brand training. According to a recent Interbrand global study, 59 percent of companies surveyed train employees on their brand, but 30 percent don’t link that training to the customer experience or to desired behaviors.

    Brands exist to inspire consumers to act—to seek out the brand, to choose the brand and to recommend the brand. If we aren’t training employees to act on the brand, why bother? Merely knowing what the brand stands for does not help employees to be part of the delivery of the brand to customers.

    So how do we connect employee action to brand in a real way? Brand behaviors are not the same as corporate values. Values are what we believe. Behaviors are how we act. Values inform the choices we make. Behaviors focus our actions. Brand behaviors enable every employee, no matter what their job function, to play a part in delivering the brand to customers. They also provide a framework for discretionary effort.

    Nordstrom is rightly renowned for their effectiveness in empowering their employees to deliver a branded experience. They do it by setting a simple, meaningful goal: “Provide outstanding customer service.” The famous one-page Nordstrom Employee Handbook had one rule: “Use best judgment in all situations.” Everyone has heard at least one story about a Nordstrom employee who went above and beyond to provide outstanding customer service. Nordstrom trains their employees on what the brand means and empowers their delivery of this asset. They identify the behaviors both broadly and specifically. From “treat the customer as you would want to be treated in the same situation” to “always come from behind the counter and hand the customer their purchase; thank them by name.” It creates a memorable experience that keeps customers loyal.

    A start to identifying desired brand behaviors is to look within the company. If the brand promise is clear, chances are there are already employees who are acting on the brand. Identifying those behaviors and replicating them doesn’t cost much, but what it delivers—loyal customers—is priceless.

    Is your brand strong enough to let your employees use their best judgment? If not what do you think it will take to get it there?

    Join the debate and let us know what you think!

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  • Posted by: Maryann Stump on Thursday, April 8 2010 05:43 PM | Comments (0)

    When it came to engaging employees, broadcasting the brand was once considered enough. Every employee was informed and trained in the brand the same way regardless of their job description. The training itself focused on the mechanics of the brand. It covered understanding what the brand stands for and how to use the logo correctly, rather than how to deliver the brand through actions and behaviors.

    In a world of micro-segmentation and one-to-one marketing, brand training is still too often a broadcast effort that lacks measurable links to business performance.

    Smart companies are finding ways to link brand training to employees’ specific duties and the customer experience to improve overall employee engagement and drive business results. But how common is this? Is employee engagement still the responsibility of HR departments alone or are CEOs getting involve as well? And what role is social media playing?

    Interbrand is conducting a global survey to understand how companies are linking employee engagement and brand today. Preliminary results show that less than 50 percent of brand training programs link the brand to the typical customer experience or desired brand behaviors.

    You can participate in the survey here. It should take no more than five minutes.

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