Brand lessons from Rome
There is much of course that is universally the same... Interesting that in a matter of seconds we assess an establishment by the greeting and demeanour of the staff.
New Year's Eve and we had planned to listen to the concert at the Colosseum, and watch the fireworks. But it began to bucket down. We ducked into a taverna (early by Roman standards at 7pm) and were warmly welcomed by an enthusiastic waiter, ushering us in, out of the weather. He found us a cosy place in the corner, made sure that we had drinks and something to eat, as they rushed around preparing to open for the evening. A very well worn décor, (dilapidated really) but full of personality... And fun, rather than just dropping in we ended up staying for hours, chatting and laughing. The evening had been set by the way we were greeted.
What a contrast to the Ducati Caffè. My son loves all things with wheels and the fact that he could visit this concept store and have lunch there filled him with excitement. All slick and nice, but cold and lacking personality. The staff could not have cared, they were off hand to the point of rude, not interested in even giving us menus, let alone a drink or lunch. They seemed to be very haughty even with each other. The food was bad and took forever to come, we finally gave up on coffees and left. It was cold, void of personality and not what was expected of an iconic Italian brand.
It made me consider two things (can't help myself even on holidays). The dangers of brand extensions, and also that people are the brand. Ducati won't miss us, we are travelers, so unlikely to be regular customers, but I suspect we are not alone in our experience, so one by one the Ducati brand image is impacted, and over a period of time the overall impression of the brand is changed. No amount of advertising will re-engage me in the brand promise. The promise was broken and once done is very difficult to repair. I'm not the target audience for the original product (motor bikes) so maybe it does not matter at all. But my son will remember that somehow Ducati let him down.
A brand is a promise, held in the heart of our customers. It is a fragile relationship determined moment by moment by the people who represent it.
Naomi Simson is the 2008 National Telstra Women's Business Award winner for Innovation. Naomi was also a finalist for the Australian HR Awards and a finalist for the BRW Most Admired Business Owner Award in 2008. Also in 2008 RedBalloon achieved a 97% Hewitt employee engagement score. One of Australia's outstanding female entrepreneurs, Naomi regularly entertains as a professional speaker inspiring middle to high-level leaders on employer branding, engagement and reward and recognition. Naomi writes a blog and has written a book sharing the lessons from her first five years.