I live in Des Moines, Iowa and fly in and out of the Des Moines International Airport (I’m pretty sure we got the International because of air cargo, not because I can hop on a flight to Madrid from here) a couple weeks every month.
Recently the airport went through a major renovation that added some incredible gate seating, more plugs/outlets than you could imagine, some nice restaurants and all kinds of technology. All in all — they made a good airport great.
All of a sudden, all of the airport announcements (the “don’t leave your baggage unattended. If you notice an unattended bag, please alert the authorities immediately” sorts of things) are being done in a British accent. I’m not sure how good you are at geography, but Iowa sits in the heart of the US. I don’t think I’ve ever met an Iowan with a British accent (although I know there are a few who have migrated here, I just haven’t bumped into them) and we actually don’t have an accent at all. We sound like the national TV newscasters try to sound.
So here’s the problem with the new announcer. Her accent is so out of character and so out of place that it not only gets noticed but it overshadows the actual message. The disconnect becomes the focus.
The takeaway from this story — don’t create a disconnect for your customers.
We’ve talked a lot of on this blog about the importance of consistency in your marketing. Normally, people immediately assume that I’m talking about visual consistency — using the same logo, the same font and color palette etc. But that’s only part of it.
A question you should always be asking is — does this sound like the brand? Now, in my example — I mean it literally. The airport announcements do not sound like Des Moines, Iowa. But it can also be about tone, word choices and attitude. Is the writing conversational? Does it use humor? Jargon? Slang?
Remember — whether it is your Facebook presence, your website, your radio spots or how your phone is answered — every one of those choices either connects me closer to your brand or makes me notice the disconnect.
Why does that matter? Remember the know • like • trust model. No one will buy from you until they trust you. Every disconnect feels odd. Every disconnect makes me wonder. Every disconnect makes trust more difficult.
You might want to review your own marketing materials. Are you creating a disconnect that needs to be re-aligned?
Excellent points. Having that consistency of voice is just as important as color, logo, etc. It’s a mantra I repeat to my clients, too. Conversational writing is becoming ever more important with the advent of Hummingbird and voice search. Stilted, techno-language will be filtered out. As I like to say, GED, not PhD!
On a personal note, I have family near Des Moines but it’s been a while since I’ve been in the airport – I will have to pay attention next time and see if they have taken your advice!
I like the accent analogy. I can relate in a sense. When I was in Italy, I fell in love with the female voice recording on the train. Although in this case, the “accent” did fit the brand, I was still distracted. 🙂
Great point! When something is off it becomes the only thing anyone can focus on. Everything else could be smooth sailing but all anyone will remember is that one hiccup.