While en route to facilitate a member engagement training this month, I spent some time in the Syracuse airport. The airport has been under construction for the last several months and can be a little confusing, especially for a traveler late at night.

While trying to navigate my way to the parking garage, a kind young woman sweeping the terminal took the time to ask me if I needed directions. She asked in a warm, friendly manner that really gave the feeling she was empathetic to my plight. I gratefully accepted her help and was soon on my way to the parking garage.

When it comes to your credit union or bank’s brand, everyone must own your brand like this airport employee did.

According to Gallup, only 30 percent of U.S. employees are engaged at work. An actively disengaged employee—someone working against your brand and mission—costs the organization $3,400 for every $10,000 in salary. It pays to have employees own your brand.

In my experience detailed above, it would have been easy for the young woman to continue her job and simply not see one more tired traveler trying to make his way through the airport. But she didn’t. She stepped up, offered assistance and became a terrific brand ambassador for the airport. Her kindness made a frustrating situation better and definitely improved my evening.

Authentic brands simply don’t allow for silo mentalities and the traditional front line/back-office mentality. In his book, “How Excellent Companies Avoid Dumb Things,” author Neil Smith asserts that successful brands smash their silos and work together across departments to build the brand.

It doesn’t matter if you’re the CEO, VP of Whatever, human resources, marketing or facilities—everyone must step up and do their part to live the brand.

Do you expect this of your staff? Do you have brand accountability measures in place that enforce the importance of living the brand? Or do you simply hope everyone does his or her own job?

Effective branding includes clearly-stated expectations of staff brand behavior as well as accountability measures. Simply leaving it up to chance is not an option.

The choice is yours: either own your brand or allow fate to dictate it to you. Smart credit unions and banks launch brands that encourage staff ownership.