It was a cloudy Atlanta day in February with snowflakes beginning to fall. Not a common occurrence but a perfect setting to do something that had never been done before. In a large conference room gathered the top 80 leaders of a parking company with a fantastic heritage. Just a year earlier Lanier Parking had been acquired with an eye to building the first real brand in the parking industry. And to do that the leaders of Lanier Parking had gathered to find their deepest story and with it the Lanier brand.Â
In order to build a real brand, the leaders and line employees of a company have to take a leap of faith. They have to believe that their own authentic story belongs in the world of building companies. For it is their story, when properly placed on the platform of a brand, that shouts to the world that we are real. Anything else will fall short, for the market is quick to sniff out fake brands. And so in groups the leaders of Lanier began to dig out the deepest sense of who they might personally be. They then told members of their group their own personal stories. And from this storytelling session they were asked to create the brand story of Lanier. Now, most folks would think that personal stories and authenticity are not the stuff of corporate careers. But the great leaders in any path of life know that their deepest personal experience is the stuff that makes them leaders.
Each small group of about 10 people was asked to stand in front of the other 70 people and tell the deep story that they had created. Many had never presented to a large group in their life. But the passion and drive of a real story could not be denied. And in their courage they realized that Lanier Parking was the place that they felt the deepest sense of family and loyalty. And at the end of 2 1/2 days they jointly issued a dangerous declaration -- â€œWe are Lanier and we are a real brand.â€Â
Never underestimate a dangerous declaration made from the depths of personal authenticity. For such a declaration will draw to it those who feel the same. So, we at Lanier invite you to give us the test of whether we are a real brand. Stop by, let us tell our story, and you be the judge. Because we know that you will leave with the words on your lips, â€œLanier is a real brand.â€