Friday, November 13, 2009

Brand Lessons: What a Brand Promises..The APPLE Store on 67th

Yesterday's last posting was about the APPLE store that will open tomorrow in my neighborhood. APPLE is a prefect example of how a BRAND PROMISE delivers. Apple expects to open 50-70 stores even in this downturn. What have they done to take such an aggressive route? They have defined the benefit they offer to the customer, the consumer develops a relationship based upon expectation, and then Apple delivers again and again. Apple users are evangelical about the brand. I was one of the many who stood in front of the blazing cube of light last evening on 67th and Broadway. As I did, I was reminded of those classic movies in black and white, where people gathered around a TV set in a store front electronics store trying to get a look at something cool on the fuzzy screen.

On Broadway we gathered in front of the towering curtain wall of glass, but what we were seeing wasn't fuzzy. It was simple elegant product arranged on white, stark , modern tables-- hundreds of MAC computers waiting to be played with, and waiting to benefit people's lives, waiting to fuel the economy, waiting to deliver on the brand promise of a hip, cool, user friendly, safe product, and always supportive face to face and online service.

As a MADMAN principal seeking to create or regenerate a brand, spend time thinking of Brand Promise. It's what we do implicitly everyday as leaders. Brand promise is about benefits and expectations and delivering results. All of this is tied to the pressure of school reform and student achievement. Making the Brand Promise part of discussions about a school culture of achievement may spark your ongoing internal effort with teachers, new and seasoned, support staff and fellow administrators.

Let's approach this as building TRUST EQUITY in the organization. If every player in this Branding Push knew exactly what the brand stood for and could articulate it and build trust daily with students, parents, the community and their colleagues, how would that Trust Equity factor improve...maybe as quickly as APPLE's has.

The bumps in administrator's roads often come when trust is broken with the customer/client. As The Chief Operating Officer, you can't be the only one responsible for achievement, for a culture of continuous learning,and a culture of respect.

Breaches of this trust happen every day in the ranks when your people don't know what the brand is or worse, care. They may have created their own brand promise with attitudes and practices that don't fit with the district's vision. Then the phone rings and rings and rings, and it's not good news.. Keeping the brand promise through action and attitude is key to building the trust that keeps the branding effort genuine and on track.

When a new hire walks into a faculty room, would you want them to be hit with the..." We don't do it THAT way", intimidating
message. That comes from operating in a vacuum, Having a strong brand promise assures that from the newest hire to the nearly pensioned, people know what they are charged to deliver, to promise...and they "over-deliver" that benefit every day. They can even be measured on it.

Trust is built through building on a brand's promise. And an exciting brand attracts the best. People flock to work at APPLE. And I haven't had a single instance where any of these employees has not delivered, and I'll bet nobody tells an APLLE new hire, we don't do it THAT way here.

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