Last week, I had the pleasure of staying at a Marriott on Monday, and the displeasure of staying at another Marriott the following day. Same logo at the entrance, same uniforms at the reception desk. The problem? That’s where corporate consistency stopped.
A corporation cannot afford to leave its brand building solely in the hands of the marketing team. Those precious TV seconds and those expensive collateral materials will amount to nothing if they are not supported by a strong corporate culture.
I need to refer back to Alan Beckwith’s book, where he says something in the order that in the service industry (and I believe that, one way or another, we are all involved in the world of providing service), if you don’t have a good product it’s not worth spending in marketing, and that if you do, you don’t need to spend in marketing. Mr. Beckwith does not dissuade us from practicing brand building or investing in advertising. The principle of marketing is not based on selling; it is based on communicating. What he is trying to tell us is that we need to place first things first, and the first thing here is for everyone in the company to understand the meaning of the brand that signs our paycheck, and embrace it with enough pride and sense of belonging to become its true ambassadors.
Making an analogy, this sense of belonging and representation is not far from our role as representatives of the nationalities, religious beliefs or communities we belong to and which we are associated with to create positive or negative stereotypes.
Going back to Marriott, the problem with the second hotel was not just human resources, though the receptionist assigned us to a room where, somehow, the cleaning of the bathroom had been overlooked when doing the room. The problem was everywhere: the light on the front sign not working, the quality of the amenities below average, the linen and even the comfort of the mattress felt totally different. This all boils down to the fact that Marriott does not value their brand, as it should, because they allow it to be placed with pride at the front of any building without exercising the appropriate branding control. Now, this is what I call Branding Mumbojumbo!
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