I was in Louisville, KY last week for the ABC Expo, the biggest trade show for the juvenile products industry. A trade show this big deserves decorations just as big. And sure enough, right outside the Expo Center was a twenty foot tall rocking chair...
...with an unfortunate sign in front of it.
This was the first thing we all saw when we arrived at the show. This was our first impression.
They might as well have said "Go Home!" or "Unwelcome!" or "Stay Out!"
That sign was not there the first day. My best guess is that someone tried climbing on the chair which prompted someone from the organization to draw this crudely lettered five foot tall sign. Don't you think it could have been handled in a far better way? Maybe a couple small signs attached to the legs for anyone who got close enough to think about climbing on the chair? Maybe better wording like, "For display purposes only," or "Do not try this at home,"?
There are two lessons in all this.
First, go outside and walk up to your building. Be a customer. Look around you. See where you might be giving off a bad first impression. Fix it now.
Second, make sure everyone on your team knows the message you want to send. Make sure everyone knows the Core Values that drive you. Make sure everyone knows the impression you want to make. Even the most bottom person on your totem pole should know enough not to make this kind of mistake.
Yes, the little things like this do make a huge difference.
PS Managing your Brand means managing the impression a customer has of your store. When you send out a mixed message, your customer gets the wrong impression. Control the message and you control the way people feel about you.