Lets play a game! I will name 5 company slogans or icons and you try and identify which company they belong to:
1. Can you hear me now?
2. Are you in good hands?
3. They're Grrrrrrreat!
4. I'm a ... and I'm a PC
For most people, you can not only identify the company they belong to but you can also associate a strong visual and emotional response to the commercial. How many of you smiled and had a childhood flashback when you saw the Tony the Tiger slogan "they're grrrrreat!".
So why is it that so many of these slogans create strong visual and emotional responses? It is because these companies do a great job of using characters to create relationships with their consumers. When the consumer repeatedly sees these faces they not only become familiar but they start to build a friendship. Flo now feels more like a harmless fun friend than a pushy sales representative. Her cheerful and easy going personality shows the consumer that getting home and auto insurance can be easy, stress free and fun!
All 5 of these companies have used character relationships to not only position themselves in their industries but to become leaders in their industries. Over time, these relationships have increased their ability to influence their customers because the relationships were built slowly and on a foundation of trust. Paul Marcarelli the Verizon "can you hear me now" guy, now has a place in America's heart and symbolizes reliability.
My question to you as leaders is what kind of relationship are you creating with others? Are you known for being easy going and stress free like Flo or trust worthy and reliable like Verizon, Allstate and Mac? You could even be known for performance like Tony the Tiger.
I encourage you to dig down deep and truly think about what and how you want to be remembered as a leader. Then ask yourself, are my actions and relationships in line with my purpose? Remember, leadership starts with the ability to influence and influence comes from building strong relationships just like all of these iconic characters have done.