Is your little red wagon stuck?

Wagon Your organization is like a little red wagon.  You ask all your employees to give 110% to help you propel the wagon forward.

But you have not made your company’s brand (not logo or tagline…but point of difference and the promise behind that difference) something that every employee knows, breathes, believes and lives.

But, they are good people and want to give you that 110%.  So each of them attaches their rope (talents and skills) to the wagon.  Where THEY think it should be.  Guess what? 

  • Bob thinks it should be "give the customer whatever they ask for.  Even if it’s wrong because you don’t tell the customer they’re wrong." 
  • But Betty knows it’s "squeeze costs of goods, even if that means slow shipping" because price is king at your company.
  • Now John is convinced that it’s the people that make your company special, so he’s going to put his 110% of tugging behind better benefit packages so your retention rises.

See the problem?  They are all pulling with all their might.  But they are not pulling in the same direction.  So your wagon goes nowhere.  Your people get frustrated.  You get frustrated.

All because you either don’t know what your brand really is or, you know but haven’t made sharing it with your employees a priority.

How long are you going to leave it stuck?

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11 comments on “Is your little red wagon stuck?

  1. Steve Harper says:

    What a great post! This is so true and such a problem for many companies. They spend tons of dollars to craft a brand strategy but fail to put any investment behind educating the “team” on how to implement, maximize and talk openly and fluently about the brand strategy of the company. Without that clear education any brand reconfiguration/reinvestment by a company is likely to prove worthless.

    Ripple On!

    Steve Harper

  2. Mark True says:


    This is so obvious…yet so often overlooked. I think it’s the very first and biggest mistake most organizations make when they engage. I hope more would-be clients read this and contemplate it.


  3. Steve,

    Internal communications is always the first budget that gets cut. It makes me want to pull my hair out!

    If your people don’t get it, you have no choice. You are going to break the promises you make to the marketplace. It just is that simple.

    Why do you think people don’t get it?


  4. Chris,

    You are so right. At MMG, one of our core beliefs is that smart strategy leads to smart creative.

    Until you know where you are going, you have no hope of getting there!


  5. Mark,

    I agree and I wonder, as I asked Steve — why don’t people get this?

    What do you attribute that to?


  6. Mark True says:


    I think its familiarity. doesn’t familiarity breed contempt?

    The decision makers have been in on the process – hopefully – so they know it all and they assume that they can communicate it to their own team easily, quickly and cheaply.

    Even those of us who help clients can fall on our face because we’re so familiar with an idea: Have you ever presented an idea that is so good, so on-target, so clearly wonderful that it couldn’t possible fair…only to have the client NOT get it and dismiss it in an instant? Don’t tell me it’s never happened to you…I won’t believe it. 🙂 It’s because we know it inside and out. We know why we think that way and we know – even before the client hears the idea – how we’re going to produce it, what kind of photography we’re going to use and how the copy will read. We can see the reader looking at the piece, as a smile spreads across their face as they get it too!

    If organizations ALWAYS started with their own employees – and assumed they didn’t get it but wanted desperately to get it – marketing communications would be SOOOOO much more effective and cost-efficient.

    It all goes back to one wonderful piece of advice…don’t assume!


  7. Mark,

    All valid points. And you’re right…sometimes you are too close to have any accuracy in terms of knowing how others will react, think or feel.

    I also think its a bit of arrogance. I said it once…why do I need to repeat it? As though the employees cling to their boss’ every word.


  8. Hey guys…

    I agree with your train of thought here and I want to add one thought.

    I think a lot of the time… owners/leaders don’t spend enough time on helping their teams to OWN the brand.

    They think that if the new branding strategy is a great fit… then everyone will just accept it and run with it.

    But that is almost like doing organ transplant surgury without any plan for handling the body’s reaction to the new organ.

    What would happen in that case? Well… the body would naturally reject the new organ (even if it was a great fit) because it came from outside the body. Right?

    The same thing happens with ideas… within a team.

    So… it seems to me that the team needs to have some ownership of tbe new brand… and feel like it (all or part of it) came from inside… so they really OWN the brand. AND… so the body (or the team in this case…) doesn’t just reject it and slowly kill it.

    It might take a little more time on the front end… but it seems that it might be time well spent.


  9. Goldberg says:

    Ha Ha .that’s the funny part of it.In spite of knowing sometimes that customer is wrong.You cannot point him wrong.

  10. emo boy says:

    This is a sobering question but what do you do, “when your best is not good enough”?

  11. Christy Smith says:

    When the inside does not match the outside, you can kiss brand loyalty and trust good-bye. What is most apparent but most often missed is that the same is true in reverse. When you have people on the team who do not believe in the brand, organizational trust is eroded which results in high costs of turnover, low productivity, low morale and increased health related costs. And companies think they cannot afford to spend resources on internal branding! Change the way you think, and you may just get out of that rut!

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