So, you want a brand and a company that everyone will love?
It’s counterintuitive, but you shouldn’t start by working on your brand or working on your company. You should start by working on your hiring and your team.
In the final analysis, “brands” and “companies” are not things that exist. They’re ideas. And the idea of what a brand or company represents is firmly linked to the real interactions which individuals (your customers) have with the individuals in your company.
Have team members who don’t listen to each other, backbite each other, and don’t think long-term? Your company will get a reputation for being arrogant, giving poor customer service, and being shortsighted.
Have a group of people who tell the truth to each other, act kindly, crack good jokes, and do cool things? your company’s brand will win. You will develop a reputation for integrity, decency, a good sense of humor, and general coolness – like everyone’s favorite brands from GitHub to Lyft.
It’s really that simple. You cannot make a *brand* people love without *people* whom people will love.
This principle is true for customer-facing and non-customer facing roles. Its precisely the humor, curiosity, intellect, and work ethic of our non-customer facing developers that has shaped my own company’s brand to this day. Your people will influence each other (and therefore your brand) far more than any branding campaign you might try to buy.
And in case you think you can get away with being good “on average,” remember that many people will only interact with one or two of your company’s employees at any point in time. If those interactions happen with negative and rude people (even if they’re few and far between on your team), all those customers will know about your company is that you are rude and negative.
Who you hire will determine the character of your company, so do it wisely. But don’t stop there. Make every effort to expose the world to the great people on your teams, external and internal. Use your culture as a form of marketing. Give all team members time with customers, some time in the spotlight, and some time to share their work and values and personality.
In the end, it’s all about the people.