This post at 37signals about how cutting corners can affect your brand—even if your customers don’t notice—is spot-on.
I’ve long felt that for most companies, the strongest influence on the brand is the employees. Employees deliver the richest experiences, with the highest fidelity. We form our perceptions about the brand so much more from our experiences with the brand’s workforce than through any other touchpoint. Marketing, advertising, and collateral don’t tell us nearly as much as does our interaction with the staff representing the brand.
The post (which is really worth the read) also includes this anecdote from a former employee of an Apple store:
I used to work at one of Apple’s retail stores and can totally affirm this. They do an excellent job of marketing to their own people, which just keeps the enthusiasm for the company at a constant high. And as I learned working at the store, enthusiasm is contagious; if the employees are excited about the product, the customers are going to be excited about the product as well.
You know what? I really get that vibe from Apple store employees. You can tell they’ve really bought into the products they’re selling, and that feeling rubs off onto customers. The story above contrasts quite nicely with this one about GM:
Similarly, many years ago I worked at GM headquarters. Walking into the office and trudging my way up to the cube farm—even in my daily tasks—you’d never know that GM made cars. I’ve always considered it the primary reason the American auto industry is falling apart.
If your employees aren’t enthusiastic about your product, experience, or brand, how can you expect your customers to be?