What a TSA Agent Can Teach your about Brand

I arrived with plenty of time before my flight. Yup, I’m that person who needs to be there two hours early. I hate to rush, I like to grab coffee, sit and check email, relax a bit.  Even wander around the airport stores to see if an overly priced sweatshirt strikes my fancy.  So my bag was checked, ticket in my hand and with plenty of time to spare, I headed straight for the security line.

Only to realize it was a mile long and moving slower than my ten year old in the morning.

How often has that situation happened to you?  “I love those long security lines,” is a statement said by no one, ever. And if there’s anyone in need of a brand redo, it just might be the agents.

So on this trip, I finally made it to head of the line.  I handed over my ID and my ticket via my mobile phone to the TSA guy expecting the same serious, “My job is about national security therefore I can’t smile” attitude. I get it. It’s a serious job. And no one is really happy in those security lines.

This guy, however… he did more than smile. He completely circumvented my expectations (which from a branding perspective is a big builder of buzz). Because of that experience, I am now writing about said TSA agent and I’m inspired to show that they can do their job and make the experience better for those of us who deal with them.

He took my ID and compared it to my ticketed information. Check. Check.

Then he wished me an early happy birthday (my birthday was yesterday. The trip was a few weeks ago.)

That in itself is more than most do.

Then he went a step further. He noted that I’d gotten a haircut.

Wait… what?

Now. This could have been a cleverly disguised way of making sure I was in fact the woman on the picture, now with hair about 5 inches shorter. Doesn’t matter. Because after he noted the hair cut, he complimented it.

“Looks good. Have a great flight.”

A guy and a TSA agent complimenting my hair. Yes, I’m mocking a bit. (My hubby regularly compliments and notices.)

A TSA agent is part of the brand — in many ways, they ARE the brand because they are the humans we deal with every single day who represent that brand. When we complain about the TSA, we’re usually complaining about the people at the security gates.

And when we compliment — it’s the same. It’s the people at the security gates.

No matter what your brand, remember that what moves people is connecting —good or bad — with people who represent your brand. Human to human. So how do you surprise and delight them? Do you upend their expectations every day?

Whether you’re a small business owner, an online services company, an author… there is always a way to connect in a surprisingly human way. Find it. Do it.

Be that TSA agent. (Never thought you’d hear that one, did you?)

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