The waiter at Fore Street restaurant in Portland, Maine was just doing his job. I ordered my Bombay Sapphire martini a little dirty, just as I had hundreds of times before at hundreds of other bars and restaurants. As we waited for our drinks to be delivered, we took in the workman rustic yet urban chic decor of the place located a block off the waterfront. The menu looked appetizing, the servers appeared to be attentive, our bar area conversational seating was comfortable, and our overall impression of the restaurant was very good. But we’d been to very good places before, and, as much as Fore Street had going for it, we would likely park it in our memory as one along the way of hundreds of similar-yet-different very good places in which to spend some time.

And then our waiter returned with our drinks. I immediately noticed the olive in mine. One single olive, in all its natural olive-ness. Not stuffed, not pitted. And, it still had a stem on it. Call me sheltered, but up until that very moment I had never seen an olive with a stem on it. I asked the waiter about it and he replied that when someone ordered a drink as specifically as I had, he assumed they would appreciate a genuine olive — including a stem. He said it wasn’t easy to find an olive with a stem since most of theirs came without one, but he figured it was worth the little extra trouble to add the subtle touch.

While the olive stem certainly caught my attention, it was the extra effort taken by the waiter — on his own initiative — that left the real impression on me. And out of the dozen or so restaurants we had patronized on our trip to Portland, Fore Street jumped to the head of the pack as a direct result. That small gesture by that waiter became a key differentiating point in the image I formed of the Fore Street brand.

Your front line people — sometimes the lowest paid of your staff — are the face of your brand every day. The delivery person, cashier, stocking clerk, waiter, technician, phone operator, etc. They’re your real brand ambassadors and can make or break your brand — and your business — with a single action.

Do they know what your brand identity is and how, specifically, they are supposed to deliver it with every customer or prospect interaction they have? Even more importantly, do YOU know what your brand identity is? Something to think about over your next martini. At 34 North, not only do we enjoy a martini now and then, we enjoy assisting brand stakeholders develop the affirmative answers for these questions. Let us know if we can help.