The other day I had to get our mortgage payment in the mail and I decided to drop it in the mailbox at the grocery store we frequent. I walked up to the mailbox and was struck by how faded out it looked from a distance, only to be even more disappointed when I got close enough to observe the rust on the handle and hinges, and the faded, peeling labels denoting the pickup times and the USPS logo.
I’ve actually done some work with the U.S. Postal Service and, despite what we may think based on one or two experiences that stand out (like this one!), they have a noteworthy track record of getting the mail to its destination. They have spent millions over the past few years trying to tell that story to the public, only to have that story countered by unfortunate incidents we have all experienced individually, like an accidentally shredded letter, a grouchy counter worker, or a mail box that looks like nobody knows it exists! I, the customer, see this rusty, faded mailbox and I immediately question whether the mail will be picked up on time, as promised. I question the organization behind the faded logo and don’t think of a streamlined, dependable, well-oiled machine. I think of my mortgage check ending up in Never Neverland. I think about the inconvenience I’m now facing because of my lack of confidence in this mail drop and the extra mileage I’ll have to log to find another one. And I don’t think too well of the Postal Service regardless of what other evidence they put before me concerning their track record.
Everything is branding! It’s the big things, and it’s all the little things, and in the big picture there are no little things!