Brandwashed

Since the day our employment began at the hotel, we have been subjected to repeat the mantra of “living the brand,” which is all about personalized service, anticipatory behaviors, and ensuring that guests feel better about themselves and the brand when they leave the hotel.  We give them a state of the art workout facility, encourage them to eat healthy foods and to relax in a comfortable and feng shui-ed environment.  All of this contributes to more satisfied guests.  Meaning more repeat guests.  Meaning more money.  It’s basically new-age yuppie shit with a dollar sign attached.  And this “brand living” rakes in the dough.

About four months after opening our property, some corporate robot with big teeth, a pick tie and a wicked Australian accent came to our hotel to reinforce the brand.  All associates, from the lowly Guest Service Attendant to the middle-road Bell Captain on up to the General Manager were subjected to his poignant witticisms over the subtle differences between our two dialects and his devoted love to vegemite, a yeasty spread that tastes of slowly fermented coffee grounds, for four hours.  We listened to his jabbering while eating paltry cookies and drinking the provided Kool-Aid and watched videos of various unknown economists and marketing types preach about the joys of a “living brand”.  Phrases, such as “companies with brands outperform”, and numbers in big, bold fonts came flying across the screen, each tasseled with the subliminal message of “you are now a brand robot!”

As much as the associates collectively tried to force back these ideas of a company controlling our every waking moment, we couldn’t help but see things in a new light, or at least in the light of a new phrase.  Now we wander the lobby and back halls of the hotel and wonder, “is this brand?”

If a cricket hops innocently into the lobby, is it on brand to shoo it out or to let it get trod underfoot?  Is a drunken reunion gathering opposite the wedding reception on or off brand?  Should our on brand clientele include those who “hey you” us or shout at a tremendous pitch at cab drivers for quoting a fare downtown ($28)?

This is how we live the brand at work, but we must be doing something right because the money keeps pouring in.  Clearly people buy into the idea of a brand the same way they buy into the idea of a cult.

“Come with us,” our brand says, “Be comforted.  Relax.  We understand your needs, for we are people too.  We know you want nothing more than peace of mind. All major credit cards accepted.”

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