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In Brand We Trust

How Can Business Operations Support the Brand Promise?

POINT: John Moore

To me, a “brand promise” is what customers expect to experience with a business. Anytime a business delivers something different, it breaks its “brand promise” with customers.

Whole Foods, for example, promises its customers the grocery store will not sell foods with artificial additives, sweeteners, colorings, and preservatives. Suppose a Whole Foods store decides to sell Coca-Cola. That action would break the “brand promise” of Whole Foods and would create a DISCONNECT between what a customer expects and what a company delivers.

Business operations can best support its brand promise by making sure disconnects do not happen.

Every Christmas, Starbucks sells a Cranberry Bliss Bar as a limited time offering. In the late 90s and early 2000s, Starbucks ran print ads, aired radio spots, and used direct mail to drive even more traffic into its stores during the Holidays. We used to feature Cranberry Bliss Bars in many of these ads.

To help ensure a disconnect didn’t happen when a customer visited a Starbucks during this time, the Marketing Dept. kept the Operations Team informed about the need to always have Cranberry Bliss Bars in stock and featured prominently in the pastry case.

The last thing we wanted was a customer coming into Starbucks and expecting a Cranberry Bliss Bar with their Peppermint Latte only to find out the store was sold out of Bliss Bars.

For retail businesses, it is the operations team’s responsibility to deliver upon the experiences customers expect. If the operations team fails to deliver on these experiences, a DISCONNECT happens.

And, it’s the marketing team’s responsibility to deliver products and programs in ways customers expect. When they don’t do that, a DISCONNECT happens.

Disconnects are promise breakers in the retail business.

The fewer disconnects a business has, the more success it will have.

COUNTERPOINT: Paul Williams

How can business operations support the brand promise? While marketing may craft the brand promise, the Operations team is responsible to deliver that promise.

I agree with John’s points completely.

Eliminating Contradictions

One of the most challenging environments in which operations has to deliver a brand promise is within Disney themeparks.

Not only do they have the standard operational challenges of wait times, quality of service, cleanliness, and product quality… They do all this in an artificially, themed environment.

Disney’s promise is delivering magic and fantasy in a family friendly environment. Every aspect of the artificial world they’ve created needs to deliver on that promise or the spell is broken.

Through scene elements, costumes, theming, and more, Disney must make you feel as if you’re truly walking down the Main Street of a typical city in the early 1900s. Then in the jungles of Adventureland, and the wild west in Frontierland, etc.

When Disney Imagineers design and build locations, they make sure they do so in a way that Eliminates Contradictions.

That is, eliminating any elements that could break the spell and ruin the experience.

Walt Disney taught his team to be attentive to details and to think things through to the end. They go to great lengths to avoid contradictions. They don’t leave the experience to chance, it is all calculated.

For example, they have taken care to ensure you can’t see the future of Tomorrowland while standing in ye olde Frontierland. Cowboys and Astronauts don’t mix.

They built ‘utilidors’ – a basement beneath the Magic Kingdom in Florida – that allows cast members (employees) to travel directly to their attraction from beneath the scenes in their themed costume.

If Disney can operationalize magic, we can surely do the same in our businesses.

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