Some 13,000 people have undergone intense training for the 2022 Commonwealth Games.
I’m not talking about the athletes, but the army of volunteers who are helping to deliver the first Games since the Covid pandemic. Just as with the 2012 Olympic Games Makers before them, this brigade of volunteers are the first, last and everything between touchpoints for every Commonwealth Games visitor, from royalty to the casual spectator.
They are the face of the Games and its brand, enabling a smooth and, most importantly, enjoyable experience for all involved. While chatting to friends who have been lucky enough to be chosen as volunteers - and who are the very personification of brand advocates and ambassadors - it became clear that there are lessons here for all brands.
No matter how you articulate your brand, from visual identity to values to purpose, it is the people that can make or break it.
And there are lessons here for all brands. No matter how you articulate your brand, from visual identity to values to purpose, it is the people (especially those who have direct connections with the customer, whether that is retail, personal or customer service) that can make or break it.
Above: The Games Makers at the London 2012 Olympics were the integral touchpoints for spectators of the Games and ambassadors for the Olympic brand.
So, now that the Commonwealth Games volunteers have dusted off the glitter from the opening ceremony and set to work, let’s take a look at some lessons that brands can learn from the Games when it comes to delivering outstanding, brand-led customer experience.
Recruitment: it all starts with recruitment. Yes, you need people who can deliver on the role - or can be trained to - but you also need people who share your brand values. The Games ensured they found the right kind of people through a standardised approach to recruitment, with all interviewers trained the same way and all of them following similar scripts. Standardised interviewing supports finding people who fit the organisation, not just the interviewer.
Yes, you need people who can deliver on the role - or can be trained to - but you also need people who share your brand values.
Making the brand relatable: branding and marketing have their own jargon, and brand documents are usually full of words and acronyms your front-line team may not understand. If you want your brand to be understood by everyone, you need to translate it into everyday language. There’s no problem keeping the richness for your agency teams, but there needs to be versions that anyone can pick up and understand. For the Games, they have taken these brand elements and turned them into great training documents, with animations, examples and mnemonics to help the whole team understand what they are representing.
Making sure everyone understands: the Games have ensured everyone has the right training, covering a mix of brand and role and how they should interact with their customers. There are training exercises and discussions on what the Games brand means, and this is backed up by a set of online training modules. It’s all about clarity – and repetition. For brands, it’s not enough to just send out the information, you have to get everyone to work through it and find ways for them to live it in a controlled environment.
Above: You need to keep information about your brand succinct and accessible.
Making the information findable: it’s important to have all the relevant information in a place where everyone who needs to can access it. Multiple times we’ve had to wait for the right information from clients because it’s on someone’s personal directory and not in a shared environment. The Games has a document repository where all relevant material is stored. They provide different routes into the material, so people can find it through a directory or search. Research has shown that the way people access information partly depends on age, and having a mental picture of what computers do. Good brands know their people and organise to suit their behaviours.
For brands, it’s not enough to just send out the information, you have to get everyone to work through it and find ways for them to live it in a controlled environment.
Making the information succinct: Make sure that you don’t create document creep. Reduce repetition, remove inconsistencies and just keep the relevant up-to-date information. Having regular reviews across everything ensures you reduce the sprawl, remove out-of-data information and keep everything relevant.
So, next time you’re thinking about your brand and your people, ask yourself: does everyone know where brand information can be found? Is everything there that is needed, and is it up to date? If you handed it to your newest team member, is it understandable?
If you can answer ‘yes’ to everything, then you are going for gold.