We ask this question out of fear –our human inclination to feel safe.
However, I am a strong proponent that the question around "return on investment" is a limiter, not an inhibitor, of possibilities. It dissolves the importance of risk inspired by vision and principle. It instantly puts us in the frame of thinking that people are statistics and everything we, as organizations, do is about numbers.
When it comes to branding, asking about ROI is an indicator that the asker is most likely not ready to discuss the idea of investing into brand. It shows that the asker’s goal is not experience-driven and that they do not value (yet) what qualitative achievements does for a brand in the long run. This Goodie can come off as an angry rant, probably because it is one that I used to have. I’ve always been 100% on the side that brand building is a qualitative practice by nature. So it used to irk me at my core when I’d receive the question on ROI and I wouldn’t be able to give an honest answer. These days, I’m not as bothered because as a business owner for 5 years - I can truly appreciate the need for knowing what’s going to come out of any significant investment of resources. Capital is hard to come by and even harder to allocate when you have it. But I digress, below is a list of unfiltered f*** you questions that reflect my previously perturbed soul when confronted with the infamous, “What’s the ROI?” inquisition.
What's the ROI on a clean bathroom?
What's the ROI on good customer service?
What's the ROI on employees smiling and being friendly to customers?
What’s the ROI on employee alignment behind the team culture?
What’s the ROI on remembering customers’ names?
What’s the ROI on knowing your product, front and back?
What’s the ROI on going above and beyond?
What’s the ROI on being consistently on time and on point?
What’s the ROI on doing your best work?
What’s the ROI on happiness and fulfillment with your work?
What’s the ROI on making work you’re proud of?
What’s the ROI on delivering on your brand promise?
What’s the ROI on creating a memory that someone will cherish forever?
What’s the ROI on being honest, even in the hardest moments?
What’s the ROI on accepting your path and embracing your journey?
What’s the ROI on experiencing genuine inspiration?
What’s the ROI of persistence?
What’s the ROI of having the courage to take a risk, success or fail?
What’s the ROI on knowing how and when to say “no,” as a creative business?
What’s the ROI on being strategically clear?
What’s the ROI on giving back to the community from a genuine heart?
What’s the ROI on giving time to your passion?
What’s the ROI on meditation between moments of focus?
What’s the ROI on going with the bolder idea/concept?
What’s the ROI on taking the day off?
If you can put a number on any of these examples then you can put a number on branding and the right answer is that there is no number. It's just good business. And good business is what keeps people coming back and makes them raving fans. Good business doesn’t need a number in return. Good business is good service for the sake of good service.
But I want to be clear: I’m not saying these things don’t ultimately lead to profit, exposure, and/or opportunity. I’m just saying to keep your damn bathroom clean because it should be, not because it will bring you profit.