What the Soup Nazi Taught Me about Brand Messaging

Wednesday, April 30, 2014
Inside Edge
What the Soup Nazi Taught Me about Brand Messaging

What’s more important to your brand – the message or the people who deliver the message? Maybe you deliver your brand like the Soup Nazi on Seinfeld. The soup is so good you know that customers will stand in long lines, put up with rude staff and a no kissing rule — even tolerate the cash-only policy. For most businesses, the Soup Nazi’s approach to brand delivery, and for that matter product delivery, does not result in increased sales. For the non-Jerry’s of the world, the tastiest soup is tainted when overshadowed by a crummy service experience.

Soup, just like brand messaging, can come from anyone, can sometimes be served hot or cold and can be tasty or blah. In a business sense, if your end deliverable were soup, how would your employees serve it up? Do your employees believe in your soup, or do they just push it because they fear the boss or because it’s their “job.” You may love your product, and so may your customers, but does the end product match the consumer experience?

In today’s world of constant marketing, don’t miss a key driver to successful marketing campaigns and brand perception. Close the gap in your company’s performance that’s tied directly to your greatest asset — your employees. Most companies try to close that chasm with a marketing campaign one-sheeter, flier, email or morning staff meeting. Those weak branding efforts usually leave employees uninspired and in the dark when it comes to your customers’ perception of your brand. And worse, they don’t give your employees knowledge about their critical importance in delivering your brand message.

Since employees directly impact customer perception and the performance of company marketing plans, it’s imperative that they understand and buy into the brand essence, brand vision and brand marketing efforts. For your employees, it’s not about what they do. It’s about why they do it — and how their roles complete the brand/sales experience. 

Brand messaging requires zeal and dedication to deliver the word, and in order to motivate employees beyond their humdrum day-to-day activities, they need to be infused with brand knowledge and be passionate about their roles in the company. So how do you do it? How do you get your employees to think more about the customer experience rather than their own experience? How do you change behavior?

Training is the obvious answer. But so many of today’s corporate training programs are bland and unoriginal. When training feels like yet another task on an employee’s ever-growing task list, the employee’s engagement flatlines. Behaviors remain unchanged and training dollars are wasted.

So what’s missing? What derails the employee’s attention? Why doesn’t the training work? There’s really no secret to it – Training should feel less like training and more like personal skill development. Employees need to feel an emotional connection, interact with content and develop a sense of community as they journey through a learning experience. You can’t just force your employees to be in concert with the marketing and sales goals of your company. They have to think and act for themselves. Training should stir employees and allow them to reflect intrinsically and to draw their own conclusions about the company’s brand value. Training should give your employees the opportunity to play to their individual strengths. Have you ever listened to a chef describe an entrée? What comes first is a passion for the food, followed by a verbal description of how the ingredients actually taste. The description is not random. It’s communicated through a sense of trial, experience and chemistry all sewn together. Your mouth actually waters as you listen — and that’s what makes people spend their money.

When training is effective, it serves as a major link in measuring, tracking and improving your bottom line. Truly educating your employees about your brand message will drive improved marketing results today, tomorrow and in the future. You already train your employees — it’s time you change the way training interacts with them. Change behavior, change culture. Change culture, change the sales outcome.

Let’s go back to the Soup Nazi. He had one shop and one soup line. His bottom line surely would have benefited from a consumer perspective. Think about it. Unless your employees become proponents and advocates of your brand messaging – NO SOUP FOR YOU!

Ryan Ahlstrom

Account Director


December 2014 – Present (1 year)

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