Another Reason I Will Never Buy From (Or Into) Your Brand

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Negative rants about Marketing. Sometimes they just flow. I think we all know that we learn most (and quickest) from our mistakes.

I was waiting for my flight in the lounge at the Ottawa airport this afternoon, and overheard someone on their mobile. OK, "overheard" sounds like I was snooping, when in fact, everyone could hear her. I don’t know who, specifically, she was talking about, but it was a co-worker. She was trashing them. She was trashing the department this person worked in. She was trashing senior management, and then she trashed the company. It wasn’t pretty. It wasn’t said in hush murmurs.

What company?

I could not tell, until I walked by to get a drink, and saw her nametag as clear as day.

For the record, I don’t think she suspected that anybody was listening, knew where she worked, or cared – the fact is, everyone was listening.

My perspective of that brand is tarnished. Amazing how, in this day and age, one person, their raw emotions (maybe even on a bad day) and now there’s this sour taste I get when I think of the brand. All I see (and hear) is her bitter (and unprofessional) tirade.

If you look at yesterday’s Blog post, Marketing When Nobody Is Looking, both Sulemaan and Marty expressed that it’s hard to get people motivated and behind the brand when they are young, underpaid and poorly trained. Well, it was clear today that this person was older and well-paid. I think being a brand advocate does start at the top, but it can’t stay there. Just recently, Starbucks closed for a three-hour "coffee break" to retrain the Baristas and get all employees on the same page, and back into the spirit of customer service that got them where they are today.

Champions of a brand don’t need to be a specific age or a designated salary – it’s all about the mindset. Brands have similar attributes to a relationship. And, we all know that it takes one slip of the tongue on a bad day for things to never be the same again. On the other hand, a little kindness, thinking about the other person before you speak and putting their best interest ahead of your own are three simple ways to live the brand – regardless of pay scale, maturity or skill set.


  1. If only all brands could work continuously with their people to maintain and build upon their brand like Starbucks. I’m sure you could still find an employee slip up if you really searched, but its certainly a good start and a move in the right direction.
    Its easy to criticize but is it possible to continuously “do the right thing when nobody is looking”?

  2. I think the best defense against negative employee sentiment is to realize their not employees at all. I mean of course they are, but in alot of ways they’re not. They make everything you do possible. At the same time, you make everything they do possible. It’s symbiotic, no matter the hierarchy. As long as thats kept in mind, I think the rest comes easily. But if any company wants to keep thinking of staff as mere cogs in the system, then theres no way to get their people to really be more than cogs. Act like people matter, and they will act like they do. Does that make sense?

  3. Hi Mitch,
    I run a cafe in my school, Frujch, and have 11 employees helping us. Although they are severely underpaid (we are poor students haha), as bosses we try and create a culture where our employees can have fun while at the same time work hard to make our customers happy.
    I agree with Mario that employees aren’t just employees, and we adopt a flat hierarchy that emphasises that everyone is important and hold weekly “Frujchaholic” meetings where besides talking about how the company performed, we take in suggestions and feedback.
    Perhaps it might be more difficult for bigger companies to do what they do, but Starbucks shows that it isn’t impossible. I mean, what is 3 hours of sales compared to employee satisfaction and improved customer service? There’s no price to that, in my opinion.

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