Design for change

Ok, so the title of this article kind of goes against the grain of everything we say about being creative; embracing change, doing things differently – ‘ooh look at us funky, fun creative types, we can make anything look good’. And it’s true, if you come to us with a rubbish logo we will give you a fantastic one, so maybe the heading isn’t entirely true, because you can polish a turd, but the polish is sometimes only temporary.

The point is this.. It’s all very well getting to the ‘essence’ of your business and incorporating your ‘core values’ into your creative brief for your brand design, but beware the difference between make-believe and reality. Make sure you have done your research and not just assumed this is what’s actually going on. If you’re promising ‘nice people to deal with’ make sure the phone manner backs that up. If you promise ‘easy to work with’ make sure you don’t have a heap of paperwork on every project or that your account handlers / sales staff are disorganised, and if you promise quality, make sure you’re not having 1 in 3 products returned, and when you DO get stuff returned, remember it’s not the problem but how you deal with that will effect the perception of your brand.

Here are 3 brand experiences of mine that have seriously affected my buying decisions:

1) Starbucks

They promise me a ‘taste adventure’ yet my experience was less adventure and more ‘add coffee (to taste)’ in fact the coffee was so milky and lacking in, err coffee flavour that I checked whether they had actually given me a ‘babycino’! One extra shot later (at an additional cost) and my coffee adventure was not even borderline acceptable. I gave Starbucks 3 more opportunities to sell me a decent coffee and they failed with varying degrees of magnitude – the result being that I flat refuse to ever do Starbucks again and I look sideways at anybody that rates their coffee.

2) Tesco

They promise me ‘value’ – otherwise interpreted as ‘cheap’ – When I shop there, it’s quite often untidy, it’s busy, I fight the crowds and I have to sort through the fresh produce to find the decent stuff. But I go back there every week because they didn’t do anything I didn’t expect them to and as far as their promise to me goes, they kept it. If I want quality – I go to Waitrose – funnily enough their promise is great as well.

3) Sonning Common Electrical

The only thing I got from their brand was that they are ‘Old School, experienced and honest’ – that’s exactly what I got. Have recommended them 4 times in 4 weeks! (I love the fact that they still close for half day on Wednesday too).

The upshot being, don’t pretend to be something else. If you’re cheap and cheerful, then tell people that, if you’re top end pricing with a gold leaf service to boot, then let people know you’re exclusive. You can’t be all things to all people, find your level, tell people what it is and watch your business grow. If you decide to move from ‘Cheap and cheerful’ to exclusive, then it’s time for a rebrand…

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