You have spent thousands on your corporate branding, you keep a tight reign over the usage of your logo, you ship out expensively produced marketing materials to your franchise affiliates and… they ruin it all by creating crappily hand-drawn signs and sticking them in the doorway of the shop.
This is a trend that I have seen all over the place in Germany. I’m not sure how it started, but it is an awful touchpoint. It doesn’t even have a bit of “human personality charm” to it. It’s simply bad branding and confusing (what does that bar graph mean?). Worst of all, it kills off any other brand coherency that all the proper materials might offer.
This one is for my local post office. Deutsche Post have a similar official and franchise model to mobile telco stores and despite the branding guidelines that I am sure exist, this post office’s opening times look like they were drawn by a 10 year-old. Even an awful Word doc typeset in Ariel would be an improvement on this – home printers are ubiquitous these days. Oh yes, don’t forget this is a bank (Postbank) too. Would you trust your money with them?
When companies struggle to get their heads around service, they often end up marketing services as if they were products. The above image is for television delivery from a big German consumer electronics chain store called Media Markt. Not just service, you will note, but “power service.” I’m not quite sure what that means – we don’t just deliver, but we plug it in too?
Applecare is one of the most high-profile examples of this. You can buy a box of Applecare, which has a CD (pointless these days) and registration papers in it. The above photo from the amusingly named robotpolisher on Flickr has a caption underneath that says it all:
“Possibly the largest cost/weight ratio of anything I’ve ever bought . This practically weightless tiny cardboard box which contains presumably just a couple of scraps of paper set me back an astonishing $315 for three years of service.”
Surely there are better ways to communicate what a service is and the value of it to the end customer?
This restaurant in Freiburg, Germany, called Omas Küche (Grandma’s Kitchen) was super family-friendly, but what caught my eye was the first page of the menu. It has all the usual stuff about opening times and lactose and gluten-free diets, free wi-fi, etc., but then goes on to offer single cigarettes for sale for “Gelengheitsraucher” (casual smokers), a case with reading glasses of different strengths and they will even post your mail for you and have stamps available to buy at the bar. A nice set of service extras that have probably grown out of people asking for them over the years. Shame the website lets it down.
These people – five in total – were ticket inspectors on an early afternoon bus in Luzern, Switzerland, very much a tourist destination. So why are they dressed like armed police (no guns, but with pepper spray and earpieces)? And what is a security firm, Securitas, doing supplying ticket inspectors to a public transport company?
Luzern has its share of social problems, but is very safe compared to other cities and has nowhere near the kinds of issues cities like London or New York have. I have seen transport police on trains in London, but the blurring of the boundaries by the use of uniforms and attitude is a poorly thought through touchpoint, much like the TSA uniforms and badges that they are hopefully about to lose in the USA. If certain people in society have special powers over others, it is important to be able to recognise that straight away, not be left unsure as to your and their rights and responsibilities.