Your Followers Expect It of Your Brand

This post was written by John White on Mon, 17 Jan 2011 20:48:08 +0000
Posted Under: Brand

There’s more to having followers than just pushing tweets back and forth. You have to stick up for them. They expect it of you.

beach break cafe brandingDo you feel ownership of, and responsibility for, your followers and customers? Do you want to see what that looks like?

The Beach Break Café

Everybody who is anybody in Oceanside, Calif., knows The Beach Break Café on Pacific Coast Highway. And anybody who has ever eaten there has had the chance to meet its owners, Gary and Zell Dwelley. Gary often takes names and oversees seating, and you can find Zell helping the wait staff, pouring coffee, chatting with customers and carrying full plates to tables.

The restaurant is an overnight success about 22 years in the making. My parents were there one day when Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert and his Secret Service contingent came in, based on a referral from a hotel concierge ten miles away. It’s mom-and-pop enough for anybody with a whit of curiosity to know how Gary and Zell’s kids are doing in school, but visionary enough to have recently financed, constructed and moved into a new building two blocks away. The place attracts a decent caliber of employees – Gary and Zell need to be picky – and the place does a marvelous thing in the economy right now: it generates paychecks.

Its clientele is large in number, long in acquaintance and loud in praise, and this leads to a remarkable branding phenomenon: We all think of the café and GaryandZell as two sides of the same coin. They’re people we love to follow.

“Sorry, buddy. This is family.”

I saw Zell stick up for us, her followers, this morning when my wife, my mom and I were in for breakfast.

A couple of men in their 30s were seated in the waiting area conversing, when one of them casually dropped the f-bomb as an adjective in a sentence about a basketball game. Zell was tending to a coffee urn within earshot of the f-bomb and turned to the bomber without missing a beat.

“Sorry, buddy,” she said politely but firmly. “This place is family. I use language like that, too, but never around here. Please use other words.”

The bomber went quiet. He used other words after that.

At first glance, it was just Zell, trying to keep unsavory language out of her restaurant. But as I thought about it, her remark struck me as an exhilarating moment in branding.

Branding and your followers

Zell could have said:

  • “This is my restaurant and I don’t want to hear that kind of language.”
  • “Clean it up or take it out, Mac.”
  • “Nobody around here talks like that. You must be in the wrong place.”

But she didn’t. She said,

This is family.

Sure, you can’t protect family members from everything, but you can stick up for them.

We’re rabid followers of The Beach Break Café exactly because that’s the kind of thing Zell and Gary would do for us. We’re going to give them our custom and tell our friends and even blog about the place. In return, they’re going to stick up for us by making sure that there’s always soap in the restroom (even if Zell has to refill it), that newbies don’t have to track somebody down to put their name in (even if Gary has to ask you whether you’re on the list yet), and that parents with toddlers out for breakfast don’t have to cringe at the f-bombs coming from the next table (even if Zell has to admit she too uses bad language).

Your followers expect your brand to stick up for them. How do you do that?

John White of venTAJA Marketing is a marketing communications writer for technology companies. He posts about technology writing from the perspective of the marketing manager. It’s dirty work, but somebody has to do it. Download his eBook, “10 Questions to Ask When Hiring Your Marketing Communications Writer.”

Reader Comments

Hi John,

It’s a good point. I’m not sure I’ve had the opportunity to stick up for my followers – or perhaps I just wasn’t paying attention.

I think sometimes we forget that branding is more than just a pretty website and matching business cards. When you think about branding as the ‘character’ of your business then you become aware of the things that you’re really responsible for and that others are watching (consciously or otherwise) to see how you will behave.

#1 
Written By Patricia Redsicker on January 27th, 2011 @ 8:07

You’re right, Patricia. “Character” is a more human way of saying “branding.”

#2 
Written By John White on January 27th, 2011 @ 8:26

Hi John,
Thanks………I had forgotten about that day. What a nice article you wrote! We are really not that wonderful!
I asked the guy if he was mad at me when he got inside. He said yes. I think he got over it, I took him some coffee cake. You my dear, on the other hand have such a nice family we are honored to have known you guys all these years.
Thanks for the nice words.
Zell

#3 
Written By zell Dwelley on February 19th, 2011 @ 20:22

I know you’re not really that wonderful, but hey, this is the Web and everybody is wonderful.

In any case, you guys have a hecka brand, and we’re all happy to be part of it.

#4 
Written By John White on February 19th, 2011 @ 22:56