Sunday, December 23, 2007

Barbies on the grille and branding

Today’s Frank Gray JG column about Barbies on the grille brings up an interesting point about the customer experience and branding:

The problem is that McNeely usually parks in a spot at the top of the ramp entering the garage. “When you go up the ramp, it’s right there,” where everyone entering the garage sees it. “It’s the first impression you get when you come into the building.”
Now, Is it silly that people would be offended by a bunch of naked Barbies strapped to the grille of a Dodge truck? Probably. But you have to give the National City garage managers some credit for recognizing how something seemingly small can lead to a negative net customer experience. Another brand that gets this? As the blog On Product Management points out, Disney:
First of all, strange as it sounds, I can’t sing enough praises about the parking garage at Disneyland. Yes, you read that right. Disney has made even the mundane task of parking, ruthlessly efficient. Disney staff direct incoming vehicles into successive rows of empty parking spots. Contrast this to other parks, where, like in a shopping mall, you hunt up and down rows for an open spot.
A lot of organizations mistakenly believe that the brand experience begins only after the customer enters their door. The ones who do it exceptionally well, like Disney, recognize that it truly begins a lot earlier. And when your entire product is a parking garage, maybe it’s not entirely wrong to keep your customers’ first impression in mind.

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