This bus ad for the VW Golf makes a clever use of the media to engage the audience’s participation in the message. This is the kind of work the makes ad people say “I wish my clients let me do stuff like that.” The ad reads, “A Golf is up to 10% cheaper to run over 3 years than the competition. It’s true, no need to shake your head.”
Recently my MacBook started acting up, so I took it in to the Apple store to have it looked at. While there, I realized that there’s a big difference in how different companies brand tech support.
Typically, companies take a kind of tongue-in-cheek approach to their tech-support departments. Best Buy has the Geek Squad. A private Canadian mobile tech support company is called Nerds on Site. Nerds, geeks, and dweebs all make frequent appearances in the names of tech support brands. While the derogatory names are intended in an endearing way, I can’t help but wonder what the effects of this branding is on the way customers relate to the brands.
At Apple, the tech support is called the Genius Bar. It’s a name that achieves similar messaging as the Geek Squad–that these people know their stuff, stuff that you don’t–but without the backhanded insult applied to the people that work there. I also think that this more positive branding prepares everyone, staff and customers alike, for a successful relationship. As a customer, your time with the Apple “Genius” is a little less antagonistic than your time with a “Geek” might be. There’s a more healthy respect in the relationship.
I am forever fascinated with the subtle (and not-so-subtle) ways that brands use to strike the right tone in their communications. I love seeing little bits of whimsy in what can otherwise be a sterile landscape. Surprise and delight, I often say, are some of the key elements for building a memorable experience and eliciting passion from your audience.
Because I’m trying to sell my car, I wanted to know how much it’s worth. Many dealerships have a deal with car appraisal engine Kelley Blue Book, so that you can get an estimate on your trade-in on the dealership’s website for free. It works as a nice lead-generation tool for the dealership: I get a free appraisal on my car, and they get my contact info to try to sell me a new car.
As expected, I got a follow-up email. Here’s the body of the email, verbatim:
My name is Dale internet and sales consultant if you are wanting to sell or trade your Lancer please give me a call we are always needing vehicles that are in good condition and we pay top dollar for trades also I have a young lady looking for a car like yours so if I can help I will be happy to thanks talk with you soon
So, the dealership (one of the “big three”) spends time and money developing its brand and Internet strategy. They build a website and create YouTube videos. Everything is just right. And then this email gets sent out …
These emails should be scripted and polished. It would only take a few minutes to clean up this introductory email, so why wouldn’t the dealership bother to do it? This writing shouldn’t make its way out of sixth grade. What qualities does this email impart on the dealership’s brand?
… also I have a young lady looking for a car like yours …
Sure you do. Sure you do.
This goes back to what I’ve said a few days ago: Employees have the greatest ability to shape the brand.