Who's managing your brand?

Yesterday afternoon, after a week of craving, I headed to this particular fast food outlet to just get it over with. What I saw when I got there was alarming to say the least. There was one girl at the counter, and she was both cashing orders and packing them. That is a problem in itself but that was not the issue. What struck me was her appearance! The young lady was wearing the company branded shirt, and it was riddled with holes. Not tiny pinholes but gaping wounds in the fabric. I looked at her in horror as she stood there, non-plussed about her appearance, casually serving people their artery blocking meals.

There was a huge hole, probably the size of a 50 cent piece in the front of the shirt and she simply wore a matching red tank under the shirt, in some lame attempt to disguise it? I don't know. I cannot fathom what purpose this was supposed to serve. There were holes at the back of the shirt, some sloppily patched up with black thread, which by the way, was a stark contrast. There was, what looked like a bleach stain on the back,  and the shirt's collar looked as though rats made a meal of it. But yet on the breast was the brand EMBLAZONED for all to see.

I am not sure what the managers of these outlets are responsible for, but I would hope they would be caretakers of the brand in the absence of a Marketing VP. It is NOT the responsibility of a Marketing VP or Human Resources VP to monitor how the brand is represented to the public. Did her manager not realise she needed a new polo? Was a request made for one? I shudder to think that a request was made and denied, or that they don't have extra polos lying around. It was pretty distasteful and I don't care if you're frying french fries or giving a speech on global television, there is something to be said about image and how your employees maintain the image of your company. Even if this employee could not give 2 hoots about her ratty shirt, someone else should have.

I was just rather stunned by this as you can tell. It reminded me of any evening, at happy hour, I saw a young lady, resplendent in her bank's uniform, going down low with glass after glass of spirited drinks in her hand. And I thought, "Couldn't she go home and change out of the people's uniform before she came to embarrass herself in this manner?" There is something to be said for engaging your employees about how your brand lives everywhere, even in their appearance and actions. Every individual in an organisation is a brand ambassador. It's not solely the responsibility of the people in the Board Rooms to protect and manage the brand. It starts from the frontline and goes all the way up. Clearly this escapes some.

I don't think this franchise is in dire financial straits that they cannot afford polos for their staff. The long lines on any given day, at any given time remind me that fast food is king in Trinidad and Tobago. And while not everyone may care about the image of your brand and just want their box of oily mess, good Lord...the employees should care. How much do you care about your corporate brand?


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