My father bought one of the first Saturns. Four doors, A/C, 5 speed manual, FM radio- no haggle cheap transportation. He still has his plastic car and it runs like a champ. When Hal Riney and Partners started with that “A different kind of car, a different kind of car company” people just thought it was another tagline.
Well all these years later, I read a story my dad sent me from Business Week and get this- they really are a different kind of car company:

Recently, a man called Saturn’s customer-service number with a big problem: His daughter’s car had broken down in Arizona, and she was stranded. He reported her location, her license plate number — and the fact that her car was a Honda (HMC).
DIRECT ACTION. When the Saturn representative pointed this out to the upset father, he said “You’re the company that cares about people, and that’s why I called you.” What would your company do? Saturn sent out a truck to pick her up, towed her Honda, and let her father know that she was safe.
Think about it: competitive brand, no warranty card, absolutely no reason to help. Except that there’s no substitute for this kind of concrete action when it comes to creating a brand with real meaning.

How many times do you not go back to a restaurant because of one bad experience? Or not shop at a store again because someone was rude to you? It’s always been said that do something wrong and someone tells 10 people, do it right, and they may tell 1, or possibly none.
Sure, Saturn may take this story and turn it into one of those warm and fuzzy commercials (or they may not- since they can’t afford to tow every car that breaks down) but it comes back to no matter what your ads say- your company has to over deliver.
Bad ads may kill a company slowly, but great ones will kill a bad company faster. All business is one-to-one, even in the days of the Internet- your user experience governs how likely you are to do business with that company again.
The BW story continues:

It’s the sum total of all your actions. Yes, positioning messages and advertising imagery play a supporting role in developing your brand identity, but what really matters is what you do and how that makes people feel.
And everything matters. If you want to make a great brand, you need to pay attention to all the ways it gets expressed in the world. How is the user manual written? How does the off/on switch sound? How do you hire people? How does the receptionist answer the phone? All of these things are as important as expressions of your brand as an ad campaign.

So when building your brand story, don’t forget to teach your employees how to live it as well.

What do you think?