Is your brand confused?

January 25, 2018

I’ve just been to Paris where everything is very French.

Red and white checked table cloths, accordion music in the restaurants, women wearing actual berets, snails, frogs legs, crepes, camembert, wine everywhere.

Pardon moi.

I know that stereotypes are reductive, but when it comes to brands, cliches can be helpful. One theme, repeated in different ways, means people know what’s on offer and what to expect.

It’s made France the world’s number one tourist destination.

Is your brand consistent or confused?

Does it deliver what’s expected again and again?

I often use my chiropractor as an example of brand confusion in the flesh.

I love going to see them but used to DREAD phoning up to change an appointment. Why were the two experiences so different?

Their service is fabulous – they’re down to earth, friendly, and professional.

But they used to use an external phone answering service that was anything but.

Every time I would ring up to make an appointment I’d be greeted by the most robotic, bored-out-of-her-mind-sounding person who would reel out the name of the company – more to remind her than me I think – in the slowest possible way before asking how she could ‘help’.

After I explained I wanted to make an appointment, there would then be silence on the line while she put her cheese sandwich down and logged on to the system. No reassurance that she would be with me in a moment, or that I should bear with her a second, just silence. Then, once she’d finished setting up, she would ask me if I wanted to make an appointment. Then she would ask if I’d been to them before.


Eye roll.

American teenage accent: I’m like SUCH an old customer, I know these people, they know me. We discuss our jobs, house moves, our latest attempts to give up sugar. They were there when I had my first child. Ok that’s a huge exaggeration, I don’t own any children, but the answer is…

“YES I’ve been to you before.”

Every time they would ask me this.

Then we’d have to go through my name, date of birth, and I’d have to repeat the name of the person I usually see. Then I’d be told Jean doesn’t work on Fridays. Then I’d tell them that yes, I know that, I’m not asking for a Friday, I’m asking for a Thursday, it’s just that it happens to be a Friday, but you didn’t have to assume that I want an appointment today. I’m organised. Jean knows this.

At the end of the call she would read out the standard lines from her script in a slow-mo voice while I slowly lost the will to live. Thank you for calling *chiropractor name* have a nice day.

I told Jean about this and do you know what she said?

That yes, they’ve had other people say this too, but that they’re a really cheap service so that’s why they use them.

Quelle dommage!

Fausse économie!

Because if there was another chiropractor opposite who answered their own phones, I would go to them in a heartbeat.

I don’t because I’m lazy and I want a chiro round the corner from me. So this chiro wins. For now. But one day I might get other ideas. And then what? Off I trot, brand loyalty gone quicker than you can say ‘deep breath out’.

Anyway, finally, they changed the system

And have a much friendlier person on the phone who gives off the same human warmth and chirpiness that I get when I go to an appointment. I don’t know if she’s part of the business or not, or just a better answering service. I don’t care because it makes such a difference – I no longer dread having to phone them.

Like with anything, when your external and internal brand identities are the same, your brand is so much stronger. When they’re mixed up, diluted or competing, the brand is weakened.

You might not think certain parts of your proposition even count as your brand – but think about it from a client’s perspective – your brand is pretty much everywhere.

January 25, 2018

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