I was leaving Austin, Texas last month, and stopped in the Austin City Limits store at the airport before heading to my flight back to New York.  The shop has a nice selection of music-themed t-shirts, videos, and collectibles celebrating the city’s rich music culture.   It’s a nice respite from the ubiquitous Hudson News outlets that have infested our domestic airports. The staff is friendly and knowledgeable, so it’s a good place to stop in and get a final dose of Austin before heading home.

(Conversely, there’s the travesty of the CBGB’s restaurant and gift shop at Newark Airport, where a young clerk once told me he didn’t realize there was an original CBGB’s, he thought the one at the airport was the original. Sigh.)

Anyway, I purchased a t-shirt for myself at the Austin City Limits store.  Alas, after one wash, the shirt shrank to a size that my eight year old son will grow into shortly.   And thus the risk in buying something at an airport store – you’re not likely going to be able to return it anytime soon.   Still, I really liked the shirt and decided to try to get some recourse.

Now, I assumed, correctly, that the Austin City Limits store at the airport was licensed enterprise, with only a peripheral connection to the famous ACL Live television show.   And, of course the airport store maintains no website or social media presence.  After searching unsuccessfully for a contact for the store, I would up emailing the generic email address for ACL TV, and left it at that.

Much to my surprise, I got a prompt response from Tim Juengst at ACL TV.  Tim apologized for the issue, and stated that while, as I suspected, the airport store was run by a completely separate corporation, he’d try to contact them to get me a replacement.  After some back and forth, Tim suggested that I pick out a shirt, or anything else, from the ACL TV online store and he’d send it to me.  When I thanked him for going above and beyond, Tim said:

“We really want to make sure people have a positive experience when the Austin City Limits name is involved.”

And that’s the right approach.  To consumers, your brand is your brand, and they could care less about your licensing arrangements, franchisees, independent owner/operators, or issues with your supply chain. Your brand is only as strong as its weakest link.

At Gartner for Marketers, we’re seeing corporate marketing teams increasingly turning their attention to ensuring brand compliance, content governance, and customer experience are consistent wherever the brand appears.  This is particularly apparent in social media, where marketing teams struggle to govern hundreds or thousands of independent or franchisee Facebook pages, Instagram accounts, and Twitter handles.  My colleague Elizabeth Shaw has written “Take 3 Steps to Improve Distributed Social Marketing” on balancing content governance with localization in distributed social marketing.

A couple of days after my exchange with Tim, a package from ACL TV arrived in the mail, including a t-shirt, pin, and decal:

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Thanks to Tim and his brand’s belief in customer experience, ACL, in all its incarnations, has won a fan for life.

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