Consistency May Not Be SEXY, But It’s Effective
Dear Young Professional,
Your personal brand is what you are known for, the question as we have discussed, are you intentionally driving your brand or is it being assigned to you? Just defining and driving your PBI (personal brand intention) is not enough. Once you have defined what you want your brand to be you must be consistent in delivering that brand.
Let me share a story with you from this week to illustrate the importance of brand consistency. This last weekend I joined my soon to be niece-in- law in New York and a small posse of seven women to help her shop for the perfect wedding dress. This is a once in a lifetime experience for most young women, and one most dream about when growing up. As we started the weekend, I held fond memories of the search for my wedding dress over 23 years ago.
The trip was centered around the famed TV show Say Yes to the Dress store Kleinfeld, a brand delivering on finding the perfect dress for brides since 1941. After champagne brunch and an over packed Uber ride we arrived at the store. Having never seen the show, I wasn’t sure to expect. What I did know is a business with this longevity and household name I expected a truly unique experience. I was excited for my nephew’s fiancé.
We arrive and the reception area is bustling with excited brides and their family and friends. After checking in, we snap a few pictures of our group and quickly are told we are going to a VIP room for our quest. It wasn’t that our experience was bad, it just was far from special.
We had a new consultant, extremely pleasant, who showed a variety of very similar dresses when we kept asking for something different. Now I will admit finding the perfect dress is a tough job, but sitting cramped in a small room, not set up for our group size arrival did not feel VIP. We grabbed extra chairs ourselves so everyone had a seat, they did not have a pedestal in place for her to stand on and the light grey carpet was soiled. During a trip to the ladies’ room, I noticed a floral arrange in a beautiful glass vase only to have old stagnant algae water in the base.
Some of us finally went on the main floor selecting dresses for my niece-in- law to try on. Partly to get some space and second to help the new consultant. Out on the main floor we saw brides with their family and friends on large couches, grand mirrors and a bustling of energy that felt electric. That felt more VIP. You may be thinking, Auntie you are being overly critical. In fact, my niece-in- law while not finding a dress at Kleinfeld, did not think as poorly of the experience as I did. She felt her consultant, while new was very kind and working hard to find her a dress. For the effort seven of us made to fly to New York and spend the time, energy and money for this once in lifetime event, it was disappointing. What’s the lesson here? The lesson for you is that you need to be consistent in driving your brand. It’s not enough to define it and then rest on your laurels thinking the job is done. What about that new colleague, executive or manager reassigned to your department? They are not familiar with your brand.
What about getting a promotion and making sure new team members and direct reports know what your brand is so they know what to expect and can count on you?
Is the experience we encountered the brand experience that built the Kleinfeld’s reputation? Or after national fame from a highly successful TV show, were they resting on their laurels? So how does the story end? Well, just in case we did not find a dress at the famed Kleinfeld store my niece-in- law had a Plan B. To go to a wedding salon on 5th Avenue named Bridal Reflections. By this time, we are tired, hungry but not cranky astonishingly. While all eight of us check in we surprise the salon as they are not used to groups that large. We begin to wander around the salon looking at the many dresses all styles and colors in search of the perfect dress. The salon on the upper floor has windows showing the energy of the city. The marble floors are glistening from the afternoon light against the sparkles on several dresses. The fitting area is outfitted with a red carpet and several pedestals.
I casually meet the General Manager who came to answer a question of mine. Telling her we are all bit tired and disappointed from the first shop, she said “We will take care of all of you”, and her tone was more of a proclamation rather than an overused customer service catchphrase.
We were introduced to Frances, who I am certain this late in the day was asking what did she do to deserve a large group of friends and family to chime in with varying opinions to help this bride. There was a dress rack packed with dresses that separated the dressing room areas and lounge with pedestals and large mirrors. Quickly realizing this set up was not accommodating for our group size, Frances quickly had seven chairs set up in a corridor with a large mirror and pedestal for us to be comfortable and get a good view as we start the process over again.
Frances was respectful to the group and the bride only showing dresses within the budget. Frances asked questions about the wedding venue and what aura our bride wanted the dress the make. Towards the end of the appointment we had her try on the dress we all like the most one more time. It was a no.
Sitting waiting, now starving we are all resigned that this will not be the day we find THE dress. After wondering what is taking her so long to get back in her street clothes so we can go to dinner, she appears around the corner in a dress no one had seen or picked out. The look on her face said it all!
Frances had selected a dress based on all she had learned from listening that had all the attributes our bride had desired. We were speechless.
What can you learn from this?
Be present in business and personal situations to uncover “learnings” about BRAND like this story illustrates and learn from them.
No matter what the situation know that your current interaction may be the only opportunity to make a brand impression. Make it COUNT!
Be adaptable, modify your approach if required to deliver your brand experience.
Frances could have easily “phoned it in” pulling dresses and going through the motions. How many brides had she helped that day, week or month? It didn’t matter, she knew it was our one and only experience and she made it count. I am certain Frances’s consistency in making these moments matter leaves an impression on all brides that becomes part of their entire wedding experience.
Today, focus on your brand and when challenged with deadlines, attitudes etc., make sure you are being consistent. Go make moments that matter.
Fondly, Aunt Kris