Marketing lessons from Sergeant Tim Burrows

On August 13, 2012, in Branding, Social, by John Ellis

Good cop: Sgt. Tim Burrows. Photo credit:

What happens when Hollywood takes over your brand.

Three things stood out from a great presentation by Sergeant Tim Burrows at the 2012 Social Mix conference.

First, Sgt. Burrows is a passionate cop, a great speaker and he knows more than a thing or two about marketing. He’d be a great guest speaker at your next boondoggle.

Second, it’s important to know who controls your brand. He gave a great example of how Hollywood has taken over the marketing of police departments and created a persona that has nothing to do with real police work (CSI being the Gold Standard in tight-fitting BS). Because police departments have no money for external marketing support, they have to rely on actions to build a reputation and be smart about how they spend their internal resources. In the social media space, Sgt. Burrows’ team walks the online beat, posting on #safeTO and engaging with the public. This is a great opportunity for our cops and they’re lucky to have such a devoted guy in charge.

Third, he made a point that we sometimes forget: Your brand is what you stand for – your message is how people come to understand it. All the great brands stand for something that is emotional and personal, like excellence, achievement, reliability or sophistication.

So, what does your company stand for? What do you stand for? Why should other people rally around your idea or support your company?

In your spare time, get to know Toronto Police Services on Twitter. They’re doing an excellent job of engaging the force and spreading positive messages. We should all use social media for good.