A Better Course

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Uncomfortable branding

December 4th, 2007 · No Comments

Ann Handley on Marketing Profs Daily Fix writes about confirmation emails as a means of building a brand. Her example (quoted there in full and here in part) is a confirmation email from CDBaby:

We all had a wonderful celebration afterwards and the whole party marched down the street to the post office where the entire town of Portland waved ‘Bon Voyage!’ to your package, on its way to you, in our private CD Baby jet on this day, Sunday, November 18th.

I hope you had a wonderful time shopping at CD Baby. We sure did.

She asks whether this is over the top. I don’t think there’s any question that it is; it’s clearly vastly overwritten for an email that’s meant to convey the information that your order has shipped. It’s also affected and cutesy to an extent that comes close to cynical. But, I still think there’s some value in that.

It reminds me of a workshop I was in with one of our marketing professors; he read aloud a (customer-facing) newsletter from a ‘fun’ brand. This was, if anything, more affected than the confirmation email from CDBaby. It ran to about seven paragraphs. In the discussion afterwards, everyone in the workshop agreed that none of us would have written it. Some people mentioned they would consider resigning if they’d been asked to put their name to it.

But that, clearly, was the point of the exercise. Someone wrote that newsletter and someone put their name to it; having a brand that’s strongly identified with a value will make many people feel uncomfortable, and will put a lot of them off. That doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t work to build a strong brand, but it does mean that you need to feel an affinity with the brand you’re building. Even though the CDBaby email makes my skin crawl, it’s good to know that someone believes in what they do enough to write it in the first place.

Categories: branding · marketing
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