What are you doing to “exceptionalize’ your brand?


What are you doing to “exceptionalize’ your brand?

The shuttle from the Airport Hilton in Irvine, CA, leaves on the half hour, delivering weary travelers simply across the street to John Wayne Airport. Don’t get to the lobby at 5:01 a.m., or you’ll sit for 29 minutes waiting to board the next one.

This morning, many of us hit the lobby 20 or more minutes ahead of the 5:30 shuttle. With the airport so close by, the 5 a.m. had already returned by 5:10. My flight was at 6:25 AM and the 5:30 was already cutting it a little close.

You know where I’m going.

I approached the front desk and suggested an immediate policy change. Add a 5:15 a.m. shuttle …right now. For heaven’s sake, the driver will easily be back for his 5:30, and he’ll have more room for those who continue to leave their rooms and gather in the lobby.

The blank stare said it all. “Sir, the next shuttle leaves at 5:30,” she said. “We have only one driver.” I said, “I understand, but the 5 shuttle is already back and sitting there, and the one driver you have is in the shuttle. I’m not asking for another driver; let’s use the same one.”

It was not going to happen. I continued until she finally understood that it’s silly to have driver sit idle for 20 minutes when 15 people could use a shuttle right now.

We have a bus, a driver and time: That’s called an opportunity.

I am certain that Paris’s grandpa would be out of sorts to think that the Hilton brand would choose to miss an opportunity to endear the loyal and faithful to the brand. With Airbnb now having more rooms than Hilton, when given an opportunity, Hilton needs to remind the customer what is better about it than Marriott, and the others.

I’m Diamond status with Hilton because of my extensive travels, and I already had received a “free” breakfast voucher, and because they couldn’t give me my free room upgrade, they had already given me a free drink and appetizer coupon. It’s why I choose Hilton.

The front desk added the 5:15 shuttle as
I suggested, and many people thanked me
for being so persuasive. It was just an
obvious solution.

A few years ago, at a regional NPA social event in Columbus, OH, Jeff Wolfe of The Car Park Inc., asked me to sit down with him to chat. He said, “Jeff, there are so many lighting companies out there, what makes yours special? Why are so many people loyal to you and your brand?”

I don’t know why I responded this way, but it came to me immediately. I said, “Do you like guacamole?” He affirmed that he did; in fact, he did very much. I said, “Taste this.” We both agreed that it was very good guacamole.

I then said, “Do you like bacon?” He said, “Of course, who doesn’t like bacon, except for the pig.” Well, on the table, taunting us, was the best, thickest and perfectly cooked bacon strips. I said, “Put a piece of bacon on the guacamole and try it again.” He erupted, “Now that’s exceptional.”

I said, “We’re the bacon!”

Give a thought to what extra efforts you and your company are making to “exceptionalize” your brand. That’s a made-up word, but it’s obvious what I mean by it; it’s an action verb. In fact, it requires action.

When clients have a choice, which they do, what makes them choose you? Or better yet, what could you do to make it an easy choice? What’s your bacon?

I’ll leave you with a funny story.

At the close of a past NPA show in Boston, just before we were about to tear down our booth, a cute, young Chinese woman came up to me and asked me if I was Jeff. I said that I was.

The woman said that she was in from a lighting company in China and had traveled to Boston to meet us to see if we would consider using the company she represents to do our castings and molds for us in China.

Surprised that she had come all that way to attempt to secure our business, I was taken by her customer service. Then she surprised me even more.

She said, “We would like your business. In fact, my boss told me to come here to meet you guys, and he said I am to do anything that you want in order to get your business.”

I repeated the words back to her, “Anything at all that I want?” She said, “Yes, anything, just name it.” Now, I’m a man, and every man reading this immediately thought the same thing that I did, and women, even you thought the same thing.

What was a guy to do? I mean, talk about temptation and in your face. I had no choice, and I’m sure you all would have done the same, and I hope you all forgive me for this. I looked her in the eyes and said, “Do you paint houses?”

Article contributed by:
Jeff Pinyot
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