Your brand tagline is a commitment to your customers

I swearYour tagline is the boldest statement you can make about your brand. It’s that leading message you want customers to know about what they can expect when doing business with you, condensed into a short phrase and bolted onto your logo.

And you’ll need to deliver on that expectation. No excuses.

The only way you’ll be able to consistently deliver on customer expectations is by creating a culture that encourages, recognizes and rewards performance.

Culture isn’t something you can copy and paste from one organization onto another. Many CEOs may look at Apple or Google and say, I want to have that kind of culture! The fact is, replicating the culture of another company simply isn’t possible. Culture is what happens when a group of highly skilled and unique minds are brought together to collaborate and achieve specific visions and outcomes. For anyone looking to be like Apple or Google, consider that the hiring, onboarding, training and culture of the two companies are very different, yet both companies are extremely successful. In other words, attempting to copy any culture onto your company may be the worst strategic move you can make. You would be much better off looking for people who have the skills, background and personality needed to help you achieve the vision of your company.

Take the case of a manufacturer with the tagline Built to lead. Built to last. If you were a prospective customer, what sort of expectations would you have of their products? You may think of things like innovation, maximum uptime and durability. To deliver on these expectations, this manufacturer would need to recruit and hire people who think like leaders and strive for excellence in everything they do. Likewise, management would need to have a genuine desire to foster a culture of innovation, continuous improvement and operational excellence. Now compare to a competing company owning the tagline Leading through innovation. Different message, different vision and different focus. Also, different culture.

So, what is your tagline? How can you make sure your people understand what it means, how to deliver on it, and live it with enthusiasm? As you’re thinking, keep in mind that brand is one hundred percent internal, and it is only as credible and strong as your most disengaged, disconnected and unmotivated employee. Your tagline and business strategy is meaningless if you don’t have the culture to drive it.

Consider the case of the major 5-star hotel chain that was on the national news after hidden cameras revealed its staff cutting corners when cleaning guest rooms. Bed sheets were “fluffed” instead of being changed between guest stays, and the same towel used to clean the bathroom floor was used to clean the countertop. The reaction of the CEO was swift, as he stated that the health and safety of guests is and always was a top priority. And what about the quick-service franchise that was caught serving customers expired food even though its tagline is freshest ingredients always?

The CEO of the hotel chain may not have directed his head of housekeeping to cut corners to save money. It’s entirely possible that the staff was either improperly trained or simply too lazy to properly clean rooms. If so, the hotel chain has a leadership and culture issue. In the second example, the restaurateur could also be given the benefit of the doubt in that his or her employees weren’t paying attention to inventory, or it could have simply been some other sort of human carelessness. It happens, and no brand is one hundred percent immune.

However, it is certainly possible to minimize, and in some cases even eliminate, mistakes and lapses in judgment through better hiring practices, training and fostering a culture of practicing the highest of standards.

Think again about your tagline and what sort of expectations your customers may have. And now think about what your employees must believe and how they must think and act to deliver on those expectations.