Protecting your brand at all costs sometimes means sacrifice and the consumption of a little humble pie. This lesson has been magnified by a customer experience I just had.

Our 11-year old daughter is a competitive swimmer and so, for her birthday, we bought her a Speedo backpack. We wanted to make it extra special so we took it to get her name and club name embroidered on it. When we went to pick it up, the high-end hat and embroidery company we had dropped it off at had ripped it in two places and said to us: "Sorry, however we are not replacing the bag due to our policy of not being responsible for anything not sold in our store." Although such a policy is absolutely inconsistent with their brand image, it is their prerogative to set any policy they so choose. Unfortunately, this assistant manager forgot to tell us (both my wife and I were there) about it ahead of time and therefore we felt it unfair to hold us to it. I guess that's not the case. The person we were dealing with mentioned to my wife on the phone "I guess it's your word against mine".

So, enough ranting. Let me move onto the lessons that so clearly flooded my mind.

A brand is a delicate thing. Every person involved with the brand needs to be given the proper tools (in this case – good policies) to build up the brand - the product alone is not enough.

For those in leadership, it is critical to make sure those who work with you understand the brand traits you are trying to communicate and making them responsible for communicating them effectively.

It's a small world. The person we were dealing with actually said, "I hope we haven't lost your business", to which I replied, "well of course you have, it just makes sense" (tone was very calm). In the back of my mind I was adding "and a lot of other business as well" (did I mention I love hats). Such incidents are never between you and that particular person only. It is between you, that person and all their acquaintances ... and so on down the road.

Love your brand. Take care of it. Allow and empower others to do the same.

Andrew VanderPloeg
Andrew VanderPloeg Guest Blogger, Consultant

Andrew served at Bark for over 20 years before recently taking over the role of Vice President of Marketing & Communications at ShareWord, one of our favorite organizations.