BMO: Be Real

[Cache – #109]

At the very core of articulating your brand is articulating how you – your organization, product, service or you personally – are different from competitors.  This isn’t the same as describing who or what you are, which is difficult enough.  It is the painstaking work of sifting through your entire makeup and finding the tiny truth or truths of what makes you unique – and then of staking your future on it.

At BMO, one of the realities upon which they differentiate is the quality of their employees, as evidenced by the company being named one of Canada’s Top 100 Employers for 2013 in an annual Mediacorp survey.  As a BMO customer, I can attest that their retail branches have a lot of great people.  I have been impressed, even surprised, on a number of occasions by the high level of customer service they deliver.

And it seems clear that BMO is proud of its people.  As the Chief Talent Officer of BMO Financial Group puts it:

“BMO’s strength is driven by the remarkable talent and creativity of our employees, and their commitment to deliver exceptional customer experiences every single day.”

As part of honouring the remarkable talent, creativity and commitment of BMO’s people, this image was seen at a BMO branch the other day:

And then, in a wonderful tribute, this image of smiling BMO staff appeared on the screen:

Except that something is not quite right.  Or rather, something is a bit too right:  these people are obviously paid models, not actual BMO workers.  That BMO decided not to use its own people in a message applauding its own people strikes at the heart of its claim that employees are fundamental to the company’s strength.

While I’m sure no disrespect toward employees was intended, avoiding this kind of oversight is a hallmark of great branding.

At branding’s core is finding the truth of who you are – because people thirst for things that are real.  So authenticity isn’t just about not being fake.  Authenticity is also about celebrating your uniqueness in the belief it will resonate with your target customers, bonding them to you ever more closely.

You, your organization, product, or service are different, right?  Make us believe.


In case you missed it:  my short interview on CBC Radio One about IKEA’s horse meat problem.

Also in case you missed it:  My BNN interview re. Lance Armstrong’s brand (starts at the 3:30 mark, after the ad).

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