Brand Alignment

Two weeks ago I got stuck in Atlanta when the airport got shut down after the control tower was struck by lighting. It was a zoo. Lots of tired, angry people were being told to stand in line and remain calm. After reserving a seat on the next flight in the morning, I secured a hotel room. I made it to the shuttle where I was the next to the last person to squeeze on and away we went.

At the hotel a new line of tired, angry people formed to check in for a few hours of sleep. That's when a group of pilots from Express Jet strolled off the shuttle from their seats in the back, bypassed the line of weary travelers, and stood at one end of the desk. Once the kid waiting on the customer at the front of the line finished, he turned his attention to the pilots.

I've never flown on Express Jet, so now my primary brand impression of them is based on the arrogant display of entitlement I saw those pilots display that night, making twelve passengers wait while they exercised their special privilege of checking in first.

That's one of those situations that probably wasn't covered in new pilot orientation, but my guess is that's not how Express Jet wants their brand to be portrayed. The important lesson I took away is to remember that your behaviors assume a role that is larger than you as an individual. You are linked to your company's brand. It was fairly blatant with these young hotshots thanks to their uniforms and badges, but we all represent the companies we work for (or the groups we belong to) whether we plan to or not.

To play it safe, act as if anything you do or say could appear on the front page of the local newspaper with your company logo as the headline. That applies to blogging, tweeting, and even cutting in line.