Tag: brand

We need to have a quick chat about the loo…

This month I had the pleasure of travelling on the Eurostar from London St. Pancras to Brussels. The experience from booking our trip to arriving back home has made Eurostar stick in my mind as an example of a business that truly understands how to convert a set of brand values into behaviours and marketing communications.

From the copy on their website to the toilet signs on-board the train, the tone of voice from Eurostar is:

  • Friendly, helpful, no-nonsense, fun, young and trendy.

It makes me want to engage in a long-term relationship with them. It makes me feel comfortable in my purchase and that I know what to expect in return for my money.

It’s the detail like: “That’s as long as each item is no bigger than 85cm…” and “…so make sure they’re not too heavy”, and “We need to have a quick chat about the loo” that works for me.

Screen shot of Eurostar baggage page
Eurostar website baggage page- informal language makes this effective
Photo of toilet sign on Eurostar train
We need to have a quick chat about the loo…

We know in life that sometimes the service delivered doesn’t match up to customer expectations. (The Marketing-Geek in me wants to tell you about the Serv-Qual model here). But with Eurostar the complete opposite happened.

My expectations were very high and Eurostar certainly delivered. My friend Vicky (I write about her quite a bit!) broke her foot on our trip and needed wheelchair assistance. Eurostar arranged this with no forward planning by us. They collected Vicky from our connecting train, wheeled her through customs, waited while we bought some coffees, got us on the train before everyone else, and supported her UK-side too.

While we were on the train home I spotted another piece of advertising that I liked:

“If you have any ideas about things we could improve, or fancy letting us know where we’ve got something spot on, text us…”

I like the informality of this and indeed it was effective- (I had to let them know our carriage smelt of wee!) (Oh how relevant that toilet sign really was!)

A poster asking for customer feedback on the Eurostar
A poster asking for customer feedback on the Eurostar

So Eurostar’s brand values, which came through in their messaging was also prevalent in their personality as delivered by their fantastic staff. The only let-down was an unfortunate smelling return journey. Smell aside, this adds up to make a proposition that sets them apart, for me at least, in the travel industry. I feel the value added through engaging communications and a service that marries up to the expectations they set, is unique.

brand proposition
A model for brand development

Have you had any similar experiences?

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Have you Googled yourself lately?

Me and My Web Shadow- a must-read for anyone wanting to manage their online reputation, by Antony Mayfield
Me and My Web Shadow- a must-read for anyone wanting to manage their online reputation, by Antony Mayfield

I was recently at a presentation about digital communications and when the speaker asked if anyone had Googled themselves lately there were sniggers in the room. Maybe my fellow delegates were thinking that Googling oneself is a sign of being ‘big-headed’ and egotistical? I didn’t snigger- putting my name into search engines has been something I’ve done for years. It’s a really important part of managing your personal online reputation.

The presentation reminded me of a book I read in 2010: Me and My Web Shadow by Antony Mayfield. You can buy it here on Amazon– I recommend that you do.

When you browse the contents page you’d be forgiven for thinking that any chapter called ‘Privacy and Facebook’ would be out of date before it was even published, and you’d be right. In fact, Mayfield acknowledges this in the introduction- it’s a fact of life that content about technology and the web will be outdated shortly after it’s written.

That said, there are some fundamental principles that Mayfield writes about that if followed, will help you manage what is written about you on the internet, and we all know that most employers check job candidates out online, before they even read their CV.

Mayfield cites his Top Ten Rules for Managing Your Web Shadow. I’ve summarised these into my Top 5:

1. Search yourself regularly

Put your name into Google and other search engines on a regular basis to see what comes up about you. If something comes up that has been written about you that is not particularly positive, you need to take steps to address this…

2. Be in control – be the best source of information about yourself

When a new social network enters the market, even if you don’t understand it or see the relevance to you yet, sign up and take your preferred username before anyone else can.

If you’re present on multiple networks, Google is likely to bring all your profiles or content up first (and let’s face it, no-one looks past the first page of Google- it’s the best place to be). Mayfield says: “If you are first in Google then you always have the first say about yourself”. If you are the source then you can be sure the information about you is accurate, current and always positive.

3. Know your networks and be useful in them

So if you’re a PR professional, it’s important for you to be present in all the networks, media, forums, groups, pages, circles etc that all your PR colleagues (and competitors) are in. How will you hear what’s going on if you’re not present? And the next step up from simply being there is to be useful. Provide content, whether you’ve created it or curated it, that your network will find engaging and relevant.

4. Behave differently on your professional and personal networks

Unless your professional and personal lives are one and the same, it’s important to distinguish your behaviour in the online spaces you inhabit. For example, I don’t say anything about work on Facebook and I don’t particularly want photos of me out in a bar popping up on LinkedIn. The key to getting this right is understanding privacy settings and making sure you regularly check that your privacy hasn’t slipped.

5. Remember that your web shadow is a permanent record

What goes online stays online! If you don’t want a permanent record of what you’re thinking about saying, don’t say it. Don’t tweet when you’ve been drinking or when you’re angry. Although content can be deleted after it’s published, the chances are that if it’s something you wanted to delete, it’s already been retweeted or shared many times over, so it’s too late to be un-done.

Managing your online reputation is as important as how you present yourself in the real world. They are in fact, one and the same. Google yourself now and if you’re surprised by what you find, take action to put it right.

How brand values translate into profit

Click on this icon
Open the brand-values-profit model here

We all know that happy staff means happy customers but how do we get our employees to engage with the brand and ‘live it’ so it translates into profits for the organisation?

Firstly an organisation needs to decide what its brand values are and then stick to them. Your values tell your customers what your organisation is about; “what it’s like around here”; what you do and how you do it.  Consistency is key and continually reinforcing your brand values will permeate your colleagues’ minds more effectively than a one-off poster campaign.

Brand values should be strong enough to recruit and retain the right people in the first place.  If a job candidate doesn’t demonstrate a passion for the brand then don’t let them pass through the interview stage.  Once they’re in, if the values ‘fit’ then you have a captive audience.  It’s when the values do not represent the truth that you have a problem on your hands.  Staff won’t engage with posters saying “we value our customers” if they know it’s not true.  

When your values are ‘truth’ you need to communicate, communicate, communicate.  You need succinct, timely, regular, appropriate messages that speak to your staff in a meaningful way.  Keep communication about values short and simple. Be creative but not for creativity’s sake- choose the message first and not the medium.   

Effective internal communications is all about opening a dialogue with people, in this case, your internal customers.  Encourage your staff to challenge the values if that is what they feel they need to do in order to engage.  At least they are thinking about the organisation’s values and as long as you embrace openness and transparency you can effect change, eventually embedding the values in your colleagues’ actions.

When communicating the values you should segment your audience and target and position messages using the same expert skills you would with external stakeholders.  Don’t ignore the feedback and remember that the grapevine can yield more fruitful insights than any formal reporting mechanisms. 

Measure the effectiveness of any values communications so that you can find alternative routes if messages are not getting through.  Act on your evaluation otherwise staff won’t feel listened to.

Fundamentally if staff feel connected with the organisation they’ll be able to make the right decisions that enable them to deliver quality services. This is then self motivating and satisfying which becomes a perpetual cycle leading to happy, loyal customers and ultimately profits.

How do we get employees to live the brand? Involve them in its development, communicate, encourage difficult conversations, listen to feedback and act on your evaluations.  Colleagues will feel engaged and motivated which for business leaders means profitability.