Chinese Whispers & Discrimination

Two unrelated incidents got me thinking about the dilution of your brand.
We have recently relocated & and now run our business and enjoy our life from the sunny shores of Kiama.

We are in the process of trying out a few churches, and the quaint Anglican Church was first up. The sermon started with a snippet of a ‘children’s service’ and the leader demonstrate the importance of staying true to the gospel message by playing a game of Chinese whispers with 5 kids.

Won’t bore you with the details, but the outcome was hilarious. Sad case that I am, I thought about its application to our business of retail marketing.

A new business is positioned and branded in a certain way by the owner (by accident or design) and usually achieves some level of consistency in its performance and ability to stay ‘on brand.’

The trouble (challenge) starts when the business grows and you have to start layering more people and more systems into the business. Suddenly the message the (original) owner wants to send is not the same one that is delivered on the shopfloor. The greater the distance between the source of the brand message and the customer, the greater the resulting dilution and the greater the risk of straying off-brand.

On another blog, a reader asked this very powerful question:
Should salespeople curb their actions and beliefs?

Or to phrase it differently in the context of the Chinese Whispers story above:

Are you (as the business owner) entitled to expect your employees to subjugate their own beliefs and values and behaviours in order to better and more consistently communicate your retail proposition? (Read more here: Part 1 and Part 2.)

Or isn’t it necessary to expect that?

I believe that a brand can only remain authentic, and will only resonate with the market if the whole organisation can ‘live the brand’. A brand is more than signage and logos; and in the event that an employee cannot actually BE that brand, they become a link in the Chinese Whisper chain that dilutes and distorts the message.

Let’s cut to the chase and consider how this question plays out in the real world – on the other side of the brand jargon:
Is a retailer is entitled to recruit people with a certain ‘look’ that supports their proposition – and should be allowed to discriminate against those who don’t?

I believe so, what about you?