I admit it – I am an adult fan of SpongeBob SquarePants. It doesn’t hurt that my kids love the show and that it seems to be on the television all the time. But I get a kick out of it, too. There’s enough adult edge in it to keep my interest and it offers the type of zany comedy that appeals to me.
There’s a ton of goofy and lovable characters in the world of Bikini Bottom, but amongst my favorites is the irascible Mr. Krabs, money-obsessed founder of local burger joint the Krusty Krab. Krabs, somewhat like the old Jack Benny radio character, values money above all else. He is also an absolute defender of all things Krusty Krab. The way it looks, the way it is run, how the food is cooked and presented, the way customers are taken care of — all of it. Mr. Krabs is, in many ways, the ocean world’s ultimate brand cop.
Following are a few examples of the way Mr. Krabs protects his brand.
- The Krabby Patty. Amongst all the fast food of the sea, the Krabby Patty and its secret formula are the stuff of legend. Mr. Krabs goes to great lengths to protect not only the secret ingredients to his patties, but also to ensure he has those ingredients on hand at all times to service customers the same addicting food.
Action Step: In many ways, your secret formula is your brand. You must work hard to protect the integrity of your brand and also ensure that it cannot be duplicated by a competitor. Your brand is the secret ingredient in what makes your bank or credit union unique in an ocean of competition.
- Uniforms. Much to Squidward’s chagrin, there is a required uniform at the Krusty Krab, right down to the nametag. Frequent uniform inspections help ensure all (two) employees are up to scratch.
Action Step: Presenting a unified visual front for all consumers is an important part of your brand integrity. Whatever route your bank or credit union takes (shirt and tie, business casual, logo wear, etc.) make sure that every employee is aware of the dress code and is also held accountable to it.
- Training. Krusty Krab employees are put through regular training that includes a manual and video depicting exactly what is expected of them as brand ambassadors.
Action Step: Training is not a department. Trading is a mindset that must permeate every level of your bank or credit union. While training may start with human resources on the first day of employment, it must continue in some way with all employees throughout their tenure at your bank or credit union. Employees that stop training stop learning and employees that stop learning stop caring.
All animated fun aside, there are definitely branding lessons for banks and credit unions here. For example, can your consumers expect the same treatment from every employee in every interaction? Is your staff attired in such a way that represents the brand in a positive manner? And are your employees regularly trained to the brand and held accountable to his standards?
If not, you could learn a thing or two from Mr. Krabs and his successful brand experience at the Krusty Krab. Make it the Best (Brand) Day Ever!