Here’s What Happens When Brands Clash

Brand matters. It  really does. At the beginning of the  year, I accepted a learning and development role with a major not-for-profit brand here in Australia.

I happily took the significantly reduced pay to work for an organization that had such a fantastic public profile. As I started my role, I was filled with pride and wanted to let everyone know that I had ditched the corporate world for a kinder, better place to work.

That lasted about 3 weeks.

I then began to realize that something was horribly wrong. I remember at my induction being somewhat overwhelmed by the guiding principles of the organization. There they were on the wall in the boardroom – large plaques with explanatory notes of each principle underneath. A  significant amount of time was spent explaining these during the induction process and I wondered how the principles would be upheld internally.

As I said, it took about 3 weeks for me to find out that the principles were not upheld very robustly internally. In  fact, if I am brutally honest, this organization has a pretty poor track record of treatment of its internal people. This shows in the retention rate (I won’t name a figure here but the  number of people who resign in the first year is extremely high) and the  general day to day conduct of some internal employees.

I personally experienced some of this first hand, where I had some very challenging and highly unprofessional interactions with several people. The end result of these experiences was my resignation after 6 months in the role. It doesn’t really end there though.

At the moment I am still grieving for the organization I thought I had joined, I  am coming to terms with being let down by people who I assumed were better than  they turned out to be. The whole  experience has left a bitter taste and has impacted the way I see the not-for-profit sector.

While I am professional, amongst my friends I am not exactly singing the praises of the organization I worked for and I would never recommend the organization as an employer of choice.

My  point in telling this story is to draw attention to organizational branding and to share that it is possible for an organization to have a brilliant external brand while internally they are struggling. This is unfortunate for those potential employees who are drawn to an organization based on its external brand (which would be most of us).

Now, consider your own organization and think about the following questions:

  • How do your external clients see your organization?
  • How do your internal employees see your organization?
  • Do your internal and external brands match?

What do the answers have to say for your organization? How would current and past employees answer the same questions?

Photo credit iStockphoto

About the Author

Judy Greenslade

I seek the fabulous in everything! As a learning and development professional with flair, I enable people to be their best. And, I have a dangerous shoe fetish which is spiralling out of control.


Clem Chan

Excellent article Judy.

Definitely an eye opener, not just to me but to everyone else, as to how some organisations operate. I too wondered how the 7 principles would be upheld, when I was going through my induction, however being there as infrequently as I am I have yet to see these conflicts of interest. This goes without saying that I have still experienced some of the employee turnover in the short period while I have been there. It will be interesting to compare and contrast a “BRW Top 50 Places to Work” organisation and one who is not seen as as en employer of choice.

You may have a bitter taste from the being at the organisations but say if you were going out to eat at a particular highly regarded restaurant, which returned a less than satisfactory result you may be hesitant to return, although may return on any of the following elements such as the brand’s external reputation, or the internal reputation through their customer service and professionalism.

Like restaurants are a bit of a hit and miss at times so you may have just gotten unlucky. So having said all that you shouldn’t give up on the NFP sector entirely, there’s still good out there! I’m not saying you should return to this particular orgnisation for another dip of the cherry but perhaps dip the cherry elsewhere in the NFP!

Damon Klotz

Great article Judy! An inconsistent brand will soon be found out and it does no good for the organisation and its ongoing hiring costs and it lets down the candidates who were sold the wrong story.

I think we all know that employees aren’t the only ones who can tell fibs during the interview process…

Andrea Ballard

Judy, what you have to say is so important here. Many employees end up leaving an organization sooner than they had planned because of opinions they formed in the first month on the job. Making sure our internal and external brands line up is key.


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