Mind your (brand) language
Powerful brands aren’t just distinctive – they also have to be authentic and consistent.
Lots of brand work is rightly devoted to visual identity – logo, strapline, colours, fonts, design style, use of imagery, etc. The importance of language and tone of voice is all too often overlooked.
Here’s a scenario you can probably relate to.
You have problems with a new bit of kit, so you contact the retailer concerned. The range of responses you get may look something like this:
‘Hey Paul, thanks for the feedback. We’re on it and we’ll get back to you soon.’
By email from the customer service team:
‘Dear Mr Lewis, Thank you for enquiry, which was received by us on 8 June. I am very sorry to learn that you have been experiencing problems with your shiny new toy, purchased from our Cambridge store on 25th March. Once the cause of the problem has been ascertained, we will respond to you accordingly.’
Maybe you go into the Cambridge store and talk to them face to face:
‘I’m really sorry sir, we no longer stock that particular model. Leave it with me and I’ll see whether our service team can fix the problem. I’ll be in touch later this week.’
Don’t even get me started on what happens if you’re naïve enough to pick up the phone to them.
You find yourself in an automated, one way only, answer service hell, with intermittent and ghastly muzak.
‘Thank you for waiting. Your call is really important to us. You are fifth in the queue. One of our operators will be with you shortly.’
Yeah, right. After ten minutes you begin to wonder if they actually employ real, live human beings. After fifteen minutes you hang up in despair, swearing never to do business with them again.
Four situations, four different responses, each delivered in a different style and tone of voice. Hardly the stuff of consistency, is it?
So, what’s the solution?
We’ll look at some options in coming posts.