I continue to be surprised by some of the world’s largest companies. Their email communications are still conducted on the virtual equivalent of plain white pieces of paper. When it comes to companies’ digital relationships with customers, security, user friendliness, and technology must all work together, and they all must reflect the brand’s signature style. Because of this, the days of anonymous emailing should be over — because even the small bits and pieces count when it comes to creating perfect brand perception.
Every company’s communications portfolio likely contains many elements just waiting to receive a touch of consistent branding. I’m literally talking about every element, every detail: the language and tone used in letters, the standby music on the phone system, fax cover sheets, downloading time on sites, the presentation of invoices… I could go on and on.
Sounds ridiculous? Well, tell me if this isn’t ridiculous: You’re already in dialogue with your customers and potential customers, a dialogue you’ve probably paid millions of dollars to establish and maintain, and yet you don’t make the most of what is now a free channel to enhance your brand’s growth.
For example, think about waiting on the phone. When did you last have a positive and memorable experience while waiting in a phone queue? When did you last have a negative and tedious wait? When did you last receive a memorable and positive invoice (not counting the invoice you remember because it charged you less than you expected)? When did you last receive a fun fax? Received any memorable company emails lately?
For some reason, I can only recall the bad experiences: the ennui of waiting for 10 minutes in a phone queue, the irritation inspired by badly written company letters and emails, the boredom of anonymous envelopes and packages, the uninspired faxes. But do these essential details in every company’s operations have to be like this?
Back in the ’80s, LEGO decided to change its letterhead. Until then, the company’s writing paper was simply white with a logo. After LEGO composed a manual to change and guide the company “look,” colorful LEGO bricks covered company stationery — an exciting addition to the letters sent in response to kids’ correspondence with LEGO. The manual set out guidelines for packaging and parcels, for sending faxes, and for raising the LEGO flag outside every factory. Unsurprisingly, I still remember LEGO letters. I also still remember Mars’s M&M’s letters, which were just as exciting and different as LEGO’s. But that’s about the extent of my positive company communications memories.
Now, I’m not saying that using colors and exciting illustrations will do the trick. But tell me, why should essential pieces of everyday, routine communication between a brand and its customers be undistinguished, anonymous, and boring? Why should one company’s fax cover sheet be just like the cover sheets faxed by every other company in the world? Why should every email be uniformly like the next? That’s not good branding!
Individually, these details don’t build your company image. But by consistently working on each of these communication elements — adjusting wording to reflect your brand platform, paying attention to the look of everyday elements, and using creativity — you’ll succeed in your mission to build your brand cheaply and effectively.