Your Brand Promise and the Importance of the Front Line


Every person in your organization is telling your story. Paid, volunteer, happy or disgruntled, everyone matters when it comes to your brand’s perception. People talk about brand management like it’s something a highly paid executive carefully orchestrates from the company’s headquarters. But more often than not, managing a brand’s perception is left to those at the front lines of contact, such as hourly sales workers or volunteers. Millions of dollars in advertisement cannot overcome a poorly trained or unhappy minimum-wage employee.A while back, I went to the Guess store looking for a shirt. The store was somewhat busy, but soon a helpful sales lady opened a dressing room for me and brought me several shirts she she wanted me to try on.  Through the course of the conversation, she asked about my jeans preference and brought me 4 or 5 pairs to try. Beth was great at her job. When something didn’t fit well, she immediately would say, “no, I don’t like that on you.” Soon, what was to be my single shirt purchase had grown into two shirts, a sweater and a pair of jeans.

I left the Guess store feeling good ready to buy some news shoes to match my new purchases. I knew my next stop would have to be the Kenneth Cole store. My experience could have not been any more different. The store was empty of customers with all three sales people standing by the small counter in the middle of the space talking and bobbing their heads to a techno beat–think “Night at the Roxbury.”  No one seem to notice me, my large bag of purchases or the fact I was trying on several different pairs of shoes. As I matter of fact, when I asked one of the head-bobbing employees a question about their merchandise, I felt as if I were rudely interrupting their conversation. A great product  and brand was tarnished because of poorly trained and managed employees making near minimum wage.


Think about your organization and the people you have at the front lines. Are they contributing to the brand promise you’re trying so hard to build, or are they working against you? Are the greeters at the parking lot creating that great first impression for your church, or are they yelling at the people for parking in the wrong spot, as someone did to me recently? (I wrote about it here) What about the person who answers your telephone? Have you thought of the tone of emails coming out of your organization? Sometimes people don’t realize how short or impatient they come across on their correspondence.

Remember: every exchange matters. Every communication defines your brand, specially the ones at the front lines.

How’s the quality control at your front line?


  • Regina Jones

    I learned that lesson during my days At Disney Parks. Everyone and everything matters. The most important person was anyone who worked close with the public. People who sold ice creams or swept the floors were trained to understand the importance of their role

  • Disney is great about that. I spent a whole week at Disney University years ago taking a course called "Managing for Creativity and Innovation." It changed my entire thought process.

  • Strange this post is totally unrelated to what I was searching Google for, but it was listed on the first page. I guess your doing something right if Google likes you enough to put you on the first page of a non related search. 🙂

  • Mark Jeffress

    That’s a good question as it relates to my church. It’s a hit or miss for us. Sometimes I get extremely friendly people and sometimes I get the person who is just handing out bulletins at the door and not making eye contact. 

    • I would bet that there is little or no training for your church’s first impression team. The reason you get the gregarious person is because they are already trained or have the natural aptitude for the job. Those who won’t look at you are the “bodies” that someone recruited to stand at the door. they are more interested in filling a position than finding the right person for the job. I understand that.

  • I am that hourly, just over minimum wage front line employee at the community college where I work. I do my best to effectively represent the brand in the way I interact with visitors and students. I’ve noticed in our case, it isn’t so much lack of quality people in the front lines that tarnishes the college’s brand, it’s more how those front-line people are treated within the college. Suggestions we bring up are brushed aside. Changes are made without us knowing it. There have even been events planned that no one told me about when I am the number one person people come to when they need to find out where an event is. Plus it’s not easy to always do your best when you know you aren’t appreciated at all. I wrote about the need to develop employees as a brand asset (and these ideas) here:

    • I went through and executive training at Disney several years back and remember hearing that some of their best innovation came from their front line workers. For example, they came up with a special coating for their Mickey ears ice cream because during hot days the years would fall off quickly making a lot of people mad.

  • Again, your timing is impeccable.  I tweeted about this last night. (just before laughing at your “poo tasting chips” tweet)   I was at McDonald”s with my kids last night and when I approached the counter the “gentleman” just stood there looking at me expressionless.  I stared back at him and said “hi” then waited, he remained silent and expressionless.  We’re talking about a 40 yr old man here.  So, me being the smart a** I am I then said “I’m fine! Thanks for asking, yes you can help me”. (ok, that was wrong and my daughter rebuked me for it).  But c’mon!!  It’s Customer Service 101 to simply smile and greet your customer.  I guess because they have “Thank You” stamped on their garbage dispenser lids that they feel they’ve got that part covered!

    • I hope you didn’t eat anything that man gave you. And, furthermore, what were you doing at McD’s? Have some self respect, man! 🙂

  • I just experienced this with a Website project.  This was a small personal project and they came highly recommended. To make a long story short they had the worst customer service from the front lines to the owner. I now have to hire out some else just to fix the mistakes. If they only knew that this was a trial run for some enormous projects that could have doubled their revenue 

    • Michael, that’s what you get for not calling the A Group to begin with. 🙂

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  • Guest

    I think it would be great if you could get someone to proof read your articles for spelling/gramatical errors.

  • Jehiel Ortiz

    I like this post. And I realize that the encourage of the leaders helps a lot to the frontline workers. Sometimes it’s not only the money, but the right word in the right time, the enforce that managers or leaders put on that workers, the most they fear to get fire, etc. I think this post can help to see I big part of the picture. Thanks Maurilio!

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