Last week I stopped by a Dairy Queen for a mid-afternoon pick-me-up. One of DQ’s signatures is, of course, the “Blizzard,” and I’m a big fan. A Blizzard, for those unenlightened few, is simply a cup of soft vanilla ice cream hand-blended with your choice of ingredients like Oreo cookies, M&M candies, Reeses candies, etc.

No doubt, DQ has identified at least a few important brand touch points for employees to deliver during their preparation of this brand-defining, flagship product: complete blending of ingredients, clean presentation of the cool treat (turned upside down do demonstrate how thick it is — and if they fail to demonstrate this, your Blizzard is free!), and a warm smile. It’s likely there are others, but I suspect these are the very basics.

On this particular visit, the DQ server completely failed to deliver on those basics, which left me with a less-than-stellar impression about that DQ location specifically, but also a bit of tarnish on the DQ brand overall. The product was virtually un-blended and the rim, upper inside, and outside of the cup were splattered with ingredients. It was an unappealing  mess.

Clearly, the employee had not been properly trained on the nuances of consistently making and presenting a perfect Blizzard, and the DQ brand-related value of doing so. It made me wonder what else he hadn’t been trained to properly do. That’s a problem of local franchise management to be sure, but also for corporate management who is charged with defining and managing delivery of the DQ brand identity. I mentally compared this experience with the obvious care my local Starbucks barista takes in preparing a perfect cup of coffee, and it occurred to me who’s paying closer attention to small-but-important brand-defining touch points — and who’s likely more successful as a business.

Are your employees completely steeped in your brand identity and the brand touch points required to properly deliver that identity to your customers? Are you sure? We at 34 North can help ensure the required answers.