I was reminded this morning about a lesson I learnt very early on in my marketing career, about the fact that everything you do that’s visible to a customer or potential customer has the ability to create positive or negative brand perceptions.
I was driving in to work and I had to avoid someone driving very aggressively. I think we all know the type; accelerates up to the traffic lights and looks like they’re about to shoot through them on red, tailgates the poor person in their modest hatchback as they continue down a country lane and then does a very good rally driver interpretation on the roundabout, as they overtake on the inside.
Most of the time I’d just think what a pXXXk. But this guy was driving a brand new demonstrator car for a local dealership. How do I know that? Because it had their livery, logo, name, address and website in lettering on the doors and across the rear.
Now this particular brand of car is well known and has a great reputation for reliability. Their cars are modern designs that have a slightly upmarket and sophisticated image. The local franchise dealer isn’t one I know, but the trouble is that I now have a very clear and mostly negative image of both the car brand and the dealership.
The driver could have been late to meet a customer for a test drive. Or there could have been many extenuating circumstances for this display of boy racing. But, regardless, it made me think of the driver, and in turn therefore both the car brand and the dealer, as a little bit discourteous, aggressive and inconsiderate.
I doubt any of us go out to try and create negative brand perceptions, but it’s often all too easy to do that without realising it. Next time you’re briefing the sales team, or reviewing how they behave in public, remember that everybody who represents the brand needs to be a brand ambassador, and everything the brand does needs to deliver a lasting, positive impression of its promise.
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