I drove behind a pick-up truck for a few miles the other day. On the truck’s rear window was a hard-to-read, dated, ultra-fancy logo for a local florist. My immediate thought was, “I’d never call that place for flowers.”
Why? Because of how poorly they presented their information, even though they're in the presentation business.
Whether the florist designed or just approved the gaudy logo, I assumed they’d also do a bad job of designing tasteful floral arrangements or, at the very least, that their idea of what’s beautiful is not consistent with mine.
To me, that florist’s logo was an indicator. And often, indicators speak louder and more truthfully about a company’s abilities and commitment than its advertising and marketing content do. For instance…
- Is the restaurant’s front window filthy? If so, you don’t want to see their kitchen.
- Is the wireless provider’s website an endless maze? There’s a good chance their customer service feels like that, too.
- Is the physician’s office always short-staffed? That suggests that the doctor who cares for your health doesn’t know how to care for his employees.
Indicators are red flags that may provide insight into future encounters. A company’s commercials or online ads might allude to a great buying experience, but when its callers are kept on hold in silence or their store environments are old and tired or the staff isn’t trained and friendly, customers are sure to be disappointed with what they find in real life.
Distinctive, memorable advertising and marketing content is important, but it must also be an accurate representation of what you deliver. Exaggeration for the sake of bringing people through the virtual or actual door can quickly backfire in the form of bad reviews and angry customers.
On the other hand, you may be the best landscape architect in town, but if the lawn and bushes in front of your office are brown and crispy, potential clients might be suspicious of your good reputation.
As a consumer, it’s important to look for indicators before you buy. As a marketer, it’s even more important to recognize when your message or visual brand is misleading, inaccurate or potentially damaging in any other way.