How the SAT Made Me Reconsider a Favorite Brand

"If you are over 30 and still citing your SAT score, you haven't accomplished enough in life yet."  So says Esquire Magazine in their May 2007 issue.

This blurb made me chuckle, and then reminded me of a recent story a friend told me ...

Jane [real name withheld] got a call from an in-house recruiter at a very well known Internet company [name withheld, but I can almost guarantee you will use their service today].  The nature of the position is irrelevant.  In the course of their conversation the recruiter informed Jane that should she make it to the next round of interviews, the company would require her MBA GPA [fair-enough], her GMAT scores [OK, a bit odd], her high school GPA [OK, very odd] and her SAT scores [downright bizarre].

"You should have asked the recruiter if he knew the SAT score for the Presidential candidate he's voting for in 2008." was my rather witty [if I do say so myself] response.

And when I really thought about it, a few questions popped into my head ... What does your SAT score say about your propensity to succeed?  Is asking someone's SAT score an inherently discriminatory question?  What would have been an acceptable score?  Why the heck do they care?  Aren't their so many other indicators of success?

I don't know ... something about the story obviously didn't sit well with me.

And why the heck am I telling this story on this blog [if you've made it this far no doubt you've already asked yourself that question several times]?  Because this one brand interaction [a secondhand one at that] made me so uneasy that it's had a negative impact on my perception of the brand.  And since Jane told me the story I've not only decreased my usage of this particular service, but have conveyed the story to several others.

It's not just above- and below-the-line communications that determine brand perception.  Every one of your employees is a representative of your brand.  I know it's not a terribly deep thought.  But I also know it's not something that is often stressed or considered in the course of our daily actions.