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How The John Lewis Wages Mistake Represents What A Brand Stands For.

A brand showcases what you stand for. Even if that means holding your hands up sometimes and saying ‘we messed up.’

Lets nip it in the bud and explain from the outset that a brand has absolutely nothing to do with a logo, a campaign or anywhere you see a product/service explaining its virtues. What a brand represents are the promises and expectations that we come to expect from a company.

Here’s an example from the past few days, during August, where retail giant John Lewis will be spending £40m compensating staff who were underpaid over a seven year period during Sundays and Bank Holidays.

The John Lewis wages mistake means compensation payment is going to be made to 69,000 of its employees.

John Lewis held their hands up and admitted that it was their error because its pay calculations did not comply with employment laws. If a brand can stand for integrity and honesty, then this is easier to interpret for an audience.

Whilst a sizeable mistake, it also highlights that if a brand can admit they were wrong and believe in treating their staff fairly, then the overall positive perception of the brand is created. All the work that is done over time can help build or crush our brand interpretations of a product or service. A brand represents an emotion that we hold when we interact with a business, whether reading about them or first hand communication.

Our expectations of a brand, such as John Lewis, is to fulfil their promises and deliver an all round product that we believe in. However, the ‘never knowingly undersold’ strapline according to a UK Net Guide survey, nearly half of those surveyed did not properly understand the meaning of the phrase (probably due to this phrase being present since 1920s).

As more and more businesses enter the marketplace it is up to us to stand for something that we believe in and also to have the goals to measure ourselves by. By this, I mean understanding who we are and our audiences to interpret easily that we do ‘stuff’ like this and don’t do ‘stuff’ like that.

Emotions, expectations and promises are the key components of what a brand represents (it’s nothing tangible). It’s how we present our brands to the world that can either make our businesses thrive or gradually diminish.

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