Your brand is living. The graphics on a page are not. The content on your website or in your brochure aren’t alive either. They cannot react to criticism, respond to negativity with a positive attitude, or exhibit your brand personality traits through a silent action. Nonetheless, your brand is alive through you, and every person in your organization.
You are the brand, your team is the messenger, and your actions can either make or break your brand. Ever been to a Disney park? Exactly. Every person employed by Disney must go through their brand training, because if they do not put the brand into action, then it is disposed of as quickly as a park brochure is thrown into the garbage can.
Working in the relations and communications department of a public university brings a myriad of challenges. If your purpose is to be the central point of all internal and external communications, but nobody sees you as the central communicator then… well… you aren’t.
We are met with criticism and negativity on a daily basis, and it can be difficult to not become defensive for a living. But, if our department does not communicate the innovative, passionate, genuine, and intellectual character traits of our brand, then we are the ones responsible for killing it.
STAY POSITIVE. Remember to stay calm and collected, ready to help that customer, regardless of what they bring to the table. You can’t change their behavior, but you can certainly monitor your own.
ENGAGE. If you’re at all involved in the social media venues of our modern generation, you’ll see a lot of complaints (whether they are true or not). Don’t ignore them!! Respond, without becoming defensive. Offer to make the situation better. So you manufacture iphone cases and a customer’s case broke? Give them a new one! Can’t afford to give them a new one? Be honest! You don’t have to start giving things away, but control the conversation before someone else defines the climate for you.
EMPATHIZE. Try your best to put yourself in the shoes of the customer. It’s easy to be so invested in a project, a department, or a company that you can’t understand another viewpoint. You don’t have to change your opinion, but at least keep an open mind. Imagine how you would feel in the shoes of an “outsider.” This may help you deliver an honest response in a more positive and understanding manner.
Living your brand starts with a brand platform. This essential document will articulate why you exist, what you care about, and the character your company intends to embody. Check out this great explanation from the Educational Marketing Group.