It’s “mud season” in Vermont as I write and as we all too appropriately call it. Cars, and trucks in particular, look like flying mud balls.
While on a (muddy!) speed walk, I passed through the Equinox Hotel parking lot—Manchester Village, Vermont. They were undergoing a massive renovation. The primary contractor was Bread Loaf Construction, probably Vermont’s best (in fact, tops by any standard), out of Middlebury.
Bread Loaf folks must not be as smart as I think; that is, they apparently didn’t know it was mud season. Every contractor’s truck in the parking lot—and the FedEx and UPS trucks, too—confirmed the “mud ball” image I just suggested. Except for Bread Loaf’s. There were two BL trucks in the lot, both sizable pickups. Both, in BL tradition, were painted fire engine red.
And neither—and here I do not exaggerate—had the tiniest apparent trace of dirt or mud or even dust.
Later in the afternoon, I was having a long interview with a top dog at the ad agency TBWA/Chiat/Day, and, not surprisingly, the topic turned to branding. Out of my mouth, startling me, popped, “Branding is a squeaky-sparkly clean bright red contractor’s truck in mud season in Vermont.” We nattered on about the fact that branding is, well, about … Everything. On the one hand, that’s not very helpful or operational. On the other hand, it reminds us that nothing, absolutely nothing, is irrelevant to individual branding—or the branding of a construction company in Vermont or Susan Axelrod Accountants, or Megacorp Inc.
Quintessential definition of an “everything”: Carl Sewell, based in Dallas, owns a string of car dealerships, including a Cadillac “store” in Dallas.
Carl bought a … streetsweeper.
The first thing a prospective customer sees of Sewell Village Cadillac is the road in front of the facility. Hence, Carl decided to take what his customer would see upon arrival—the street!—out of the city’s hands and into his own hands; it’s fair to say that “Project Clean Street” is a nontrivial element of his brand. That would also explain the fantastic arrays of flowers inside—worthy of the All-time Flower Champions, Issy Sharp’s Four Seasons Hotels. (I’d love to see Issy’s flower bill—it’d make me, but not Issy, blanch.)
So (and I command):
Check the reception desk.
Check the reception area.
(Check the street—even in Manhattan.)
Check the bathroom.
Check your last Client email.
Check 10 “little things.”
Is each one stunningly, amazingly Excellent?
Does each one confirm & extend & broadcast your “brand promise”?
Your training department?
Your six-person insurance company on Main Street?
Your BigCo division?
(Remember, a very BIG thing: You are in absolute control here!!!!!!!! There are things you cannot make happen, to be sure; but you, no matter how “junior,” or no matter what the state of the economy, can project Brand Excellence via a thousand “atmospherics” that in the end overwhelmingly determine Client-Employee perception.)
(I judge that there’s a little bit of duplication in this point. I say: Hooray!)
Tom Peters is a best-selling business author and speaker. His new book is The Little BIG Things: 163 Ways to Pursue Excellence. Find out more about Tom’s thoughts on Excellence at his blog or on Twitter at @Tom_Peters.