Aquarium’s Brand-Image Synergy Doesn’t Quite Float

Posted on by Beth Negus Viveiros

turtle.jpgIs your customers’ experience consistent with your brand proposition across all channels?

Many marketers might have a knee jerk “of course!” answer to that question. But really think about it. Does everything your customer experiences with your brand really jibe with the image you want to project?

On New Year’s Day, my husband and I took our boys to the New England Aquarium in Boston, using passes we had purchased on LivingSocial.

Judging by the long lines at the entrance, we weren’t the only parents with this idea. But the wait wasn’t bad, thanks to the unseasonably warm weather and the tents the aquarium had set up to help ward off the chill coming off the nearby harbor. In those tents, kids (and their parents) could pick up some complimentary hot cocoa and cookies to help pass the time.

This was a nice touch, and perfectly in keeping with the image the family-friendly brand image the Aquarium wants to project. As we neared the entrance, we were asked to pose in front of two separate green screens for a photo, presumably available for purchase somewhere inside.

Having purchased a load of these types of shots while on vacation in DisneyWorld last year, neither my husband nor I were particularly interested in buying one. But we were curious how the photo turned out, so before we left we queued up to the photo booth, assuming we’d get to see the pictures on the computer screen positioned over the booth.

We were surprised when the clerk proceeded to print out the pictures before we had even seen what they looked like. “Wait,” I said. “We’d like to see how they look before we agree to buy them, so you don’t have to print them yet.”

The clerk just shrugged, and informed us that they print them out for everyone. Presumably, people are more inclined to feel obligated to buy if they’re handed actual photographs. But….we had just spent two hours touring the aquarium and hearing about all their eco friendly programs. Isn’t printing hundreds of photos per day that people don’t want (ours looked horrible–no offense guys, but I could take a better photo with my iPhone) kind of , um, wasteful?

“They’re printed on recycled paper, I think, and we do recycle them,” the clerk weakly offered. Still, there’s the waste of ink and energy to do the printing. This is an image-brand synergy fail.

Of course, there are brands who get it right. A look in my email inbox today shows an email from Godiva offering Rewards Card members a free copy of the Nicholas Sparks romance novel “The Lucky One” if they spend $25 or more in-store. This plays nicely into the brand’s theme of encouraging love and romance, and gives folks purchasing Valentine’s gifts a nice little additional present to throw in the bag with their chocolates.

Having brand synergy shouldn’t be forgotten at the one-to-one level as well. And having a sense of humor doesn’t hurt either. Take a look at this email exchange between the U.K.’s Early Learning Centre toy chain and videogame developer Ross Mills, who tongue-in-cheekly complained about the retailer selling Star Wars toys that positioned Anakin Skywalker (a.k.a. the future Darth Vader) as a hero.

May marketing synergy be with you!

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