Live your brand

Our building Potbelly.

It was a busy day and by the time 1:15 rolled around, I had yet to eat lunch. After considering the frigid temperature outside, I decided on one of the options in our lobby: Potbelly.


I entered from the back of the restaurant and immediately noticed the little old lady staring confusedly at the menu board. I admit my heart sank and hoped she’d make up her mind by the time I walked all the way around to the front.

That didn’t happen.

Instead, as I came up behind her, I heard her say to the worker, “Honey, do you just have a turkey sandwich on here?” The worked smiled and replied, “Yes, ma’am, we do. What kind of bread would you like it on?”

The older lady moved towards the counter. Each step she took appeared to be taken with great effort and concentration. I took a deep breath, preparing myself for what was going to be a test of patience.

And then the worker smiled at me. But it wasn’t any smile. It was an implied contract of sorts. With that one look she asked me to be patient in a way that showed she respected this woman and was going to take the necessary time with her. In the kindest and most sincere way possible.

I softened.

And this is how it went. If you’ve been to Potbelly, you know that the workers change as you move down the line and they aren’t necessarily aware of the previous workers’ exchange, unless there some sort of special order. Each worker treated the lady the same way, patiently repeating ingredients, speaking louder upon request and never once rushing her or making her feel like she’s holding up the line.

This really struck me. Previous to working at Mobium, I spent ten years in restaurant marketing. I’ve spent many hours discussing how to find quality employees that will live the brand. In short, it’s really, really hard. Especially for hourly paid positions.

And yet, this Potbelly was successful. My gut tells me they invest a lot of time in training their employees on expected behavior and probably tie incentives to performance.

Whatever they do, it was worth it. I walked into the restaurant in a rush and, quite frankly, with a general bad attitude. After witnessing the kindness displayed by each employee, I went back to work with a softer heart and a stronger affinity for Potbelly.

This is just as important for business-to-business brands … making sure every contact point a customer and prospect has with your company is consistent with who you are as a brand.

You can read more about how to build stronger relationships with customers here.

4 Responses

  1. Kay Martin says:

    What a great post, thanks Carrie. So true about having a stronger connection to brands that “live” like that. Sometimes, it’s the seemingly simple things that really make the lasting impressions.

  2. Carrie – thanks for this. It really rang true for me as the head of a nonprofit in Nashville working with adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities. If a business treated my participants with such respect and gentle care, I would go out of my way to support their business in the future! I want to partner with other organizations that are trying to keep the relationships with customers and other stakeholders at a human and personal level. Kudos to Potbelly – I used to eat there when I lived in the Chicago area (back when I worked for RRD).

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