A friend of mine works for a mid-sized corporation with strong brand recognition in their industry. She was telling me a story yesterday about her frustration with a trade show experience. Apparently, one of their marketing people had approved copy for trade show display materials (reusable, expensive) that had a typo. Clearly their fault. Their department manager told them, “if the printer will fix it for less than $500, you can get it fixed. Otherwise, live with it.” Luckily for them, they got the printer to fix it within budget. But what if the printer had insisted on charging more?
That’s a very interesting way of putting value on their brand isn’t it? This company was headed for a trade show that was catering directly to its core audience. What does an obvious typo in display materials say? That they don’t notice errors? That they don’t care about errors? Either way, the underlying message to the customers isn’t good.
It doesn’t matter what industry you are in -- we live in a world in which hundreds of messages each day clamor for our customers’ attention. Most people don’t process all those messages, because they can’t. So they selectively filter out all the unnecessary information, while simultaneously investing more heavily in the messages of a few important (to them) relationships. You can’t afford to not be one of them.
Take it out of the business realm for a moment and consider it in personal terms. If you go out on a date for the first time with someone who shows up smelling badly or who has dressed carelessly, you will get a bad first impression. If you work hard to get past the bad first impression (because you’re such an understanding person), then they pick their nose at the table, you’re probably done with it.
Maybe it’s not a first date. Maybe you have a significant other who has recently stopped paying attention to the little details. They forget to grab you a beer when they get their own. They say “thank you” less often. Eventually, you start feeling like they are taking you for granted, or have gotten too comfortable with the relationship.
Brands are like that. They are the glue that holds a relationship together, and not just in marketing. Every customer contact, from accounting to supply chain to operations to manufacturing affects the relationship, and therefore, the Brand. Just like the relationships between lovers, it’s all the little details that count. So mind every detail, because there are too many other lovers out there vying for your special someone’s attention.
(c) Andrea M. Hill, 2007