No doubt you’ve heard it before. Probably from much smarter folks than me. But I know if you’ve followed me for any time on Twitter, you have. It’s one of my favorite hashtags to use when I’m talking about representing my school, my university, my boards, and my organizations.
I. Am. The. Brand.
It’s a mantra, or it can be for all of us who work in marketing and communication, whether that’s for a nonprofit, educational institution, or for-profit business. Come on. Say it with me. I am the brand.
It can sound a little obsessive at times. However, it’s important to remember that you can create a lasting impression of your organization in one simple act – being responsible for doing what’s right for your stakeholders.
Living the brand comes down to concrete tasks for me. It’s more tactical than strategic in everyday life. What it means is that I say positive things about my employer to people who will listen. I proudly tell my friends and neighbors where I work, especially when they’re thinking about pursuing a degree. I wear my university’s colors proudly. And, most important, I display and talk about my school’s core values – professionalism, public service, and access to justice – all the time.
These are my ways to show the brand, but they might not work for everyone. What will work – for everyone, I’m certain of it – is displaying a level of customer service that makes people WANT to be a part of my community. A few of the Very Important Actions – at least in my eyes – are:
- Answer the phone. Don’t let it ring. Every person who calls has an outlet for saying people positive or negative things about your school. Don’t you want them to be positive?
- Answer the questions. If you can’t, take a message and find someone who can.
- Respond to your email. Even if it’s to say you have to get back with the right answer.
- Find the answers. You can’t become a subject matter expert in everything about your organization, but you can answer simple questions – like when is registration, or how do I get a transcript, or where is the event tonight?
- Never, ever say, “It’s not my job.” Even if it’s not technically your job. Joe Student doesn’t care, and he won’t care when he gets on the phone to Mom … and on Twitter … and on Facebook … to complain if your customer service sucks.
If I had a top #iamthebrand take-away, it would be that last bullet point. Find what you love about your job and then use that motivation to deliver the best service to every stakeholder you have. Sure, it will be tiring. It will be depressing at times because very few people will subscribe to your mantra. It will be stressful and frustrating.
But it will also be incredibly rewarding. You’ll know it when the student you help walks across the stage to graduate and then promotes your brand to anyone and everyone who will listen.
That’s the payoff of living the brand.
So I challenge you… What will you do today to live the brand?