Archive for February, 2010

Worn-out Workforce? Focus Your Story!

Friday, February 12th, 2010

Speaking to a business group recently, a branding expert observed that employees are worn out and need to hear that their employers and other business leaders understand how they’re feeling. To cut through the information clutter, you always need a finely-tuned story targeted to each distinct audience. But now you need to do even more.

People in the workforce aren’t able to function even close to top form because they’ve been overworked, over-stressed, and most likely, under-appreciated. They know they’re lucky to have a job and to still have their homes when so many others have lost both cornerstones of stability. But the sluggish economy is the worst and longest lasting that they’ve ever seen, and they’re exhausted.

To re-energize your employees, take a fresh look at your brand story. Are you connecting with employees on a personal level? And are they connecting with your customers/clients on a personal level? People are always hungry for stories because well-told tales reach their hearts as well as their minds. They’ll respond best to those that say, “We understand what you’re going through, and here’s how we can help you feel and function better, even when the going is especially tough.”

A re-energized workforce will help you tell your brand story more effectively–and win more market share in the process.

What’s the Story at Toyota?

Monday, February 8th, 2010

Communications professors and leadership experts are taking Toyota to task for mismanaging the story about problem with its braking systems. I agree that the company has taken a series of surprising missteps.

In a CBS news article (which can be read in full at, an auto industry expert described the reassurances offered by Toyota’s CEO on Friday as the company’s “last chance” to stop the damage from the safety crisis. Others have questioned whether the company can recover from the damage already done and retain its brand position as a symbol of top-quality products.

Clearly, Mr. Toyoda, grandson of the company’s founder, waited far too long to address the problem. Ideally the time to act is before a problem becomes publicly known. Second best is to make an announcement as soon as the story hits the media, assuring owners and prospective customers that the company has made the issue its top priority.

What do you think the long-term damage to Toyota’s reputation may be? Would you buy a Toyota right now? What will it take for you to be certain that their cars are dependable?