By Dave Stevens
I headed on down to City Hall on the South Bank on Thursday to pick up my gear for the Olympics. Nothing to do with athletic prowess you understand – I’m older than the oldest member of the GB team – but I’m volunteering for London 2012 as a guide (and to see what all the best-dressed London 2012 volunteers are wearing, take a look at http://pinterest.com/davestevensnow/olympic-ambassadors/. Boris says that the colours will get us noticed).
It was a hot and (unusually) dry afternoon and it was even warmer in the basement of City Hall. I got to the building just before 6.30pm to join a queue of about 40 other volunteers. The hand-out of the materials we needed was being conducted by four other volunteers and each interaction took about fifteen minutes. So I was still waiting my turn at 7.30pm.
There was no air-conditioning in the bare-walled room where we were queuing. There were no distractions – no wi-fi and, in the basement, no mobile signal. Frequently the gear that we were provided with was not what we needed and so there was some bustle to sort ourselves out. The volunteers looking after us had been on shift since lunch-time and were looking tired and hungry.
In short, there were many reasons why any one of the 44 people in the room could have been unhappy.
What’s interesting is that no one complained. People were cheery. They cracked jokes. They were happy to queue. They were okay if the kit they were initially given was incorrect.
And this was no British cultural thing about accepting the mediocre. This was a group of people who were proud to be part of the association of two great brands – London and the Olympic Games. Just happy to be part of something that meant alot to them.
That’s the power of a strong brand name. Whether that name is a city, a sporting movement, or a bar of mint soap, people will stick with you through the bad times and the good if they feel strongly enough.
I was reading a great article this week in strategy+business on the social life of brands (http://www.strategy-business.com/article/00118?pg=0). It tells how companies can foster those strong brand relationships through a process of social learning – basically reframing, understanding, listening, and engagement. Four tools that every marketer should think about…