In an attempt to declutter my inbox, I’ve been unsubscribing from various newsletters I’d signed up for over the years. You know the drill: you squint at the small print at the bottom of their last email until you find the ‘unsubscribe’ link, then go to their website where you’ll find some variation on this message:
If you no longer wish to subscribe to our newsletter, fill in your email address/click on the link below/fill in our short questionnaire’ blah blah blah.
Click, click, unsubscribe, get email confirmation, delete.
Until I got to Firebox.com, where the ‘unsubscribe’ link took me here:
And you know what? I had second thoughts. For the first time in about two years, I clicked through to the website. And I chuckled at their banter. And I marvelled at the remarkable bargains. (‘Maybe I really do need Random Crap Crates?’)
In the end, I resisted their charms and unsubscribed anyway. And then I got the email to confirm it. Where everyone else said something along the lines of You have been successfully unsubscribed from X, this email was different.
It’s a bittersweet moment for us and we’ll treasure the memories, but as requested, we’ve unsubscribed you from the Firebox newsletter.
If you have changed your mind (puppy dog eyes) or if this was all just a big misunderstanding, you can easily resubscribe here.
I clicked on the link. What can I say? I’m a sucker for puppy dog eyes.
Companies giving themselves a facelift is big business these days. Take Canadian bank the North Shore Credit Union, who’ve decided to rebrand their branches as ‘Financial Spas’ (complete with comfy sofas and aromatherapy candles). They describe them as places where ‘West Coast Zen meets financial boutique’. Very nice. But is this anything more than a glossy surface makeover?
In workshops, we often talk about the difference between a company’s language in their up-front advertising, and how they sound when they think you’re not looking (like in the small print and Ts and Cs). A bank’s branch definitely counts as a bit of glossy advertising; it’s the first thing you see when you go to open an account – and by making it as plush and relaxing as possible for their customers, North Shore are doing no bad thing.
YOU HEREBY RELEASE, REMISE AND FOREVER DISCHARGE NSCU FROM ANY AND ALL MANNER OF RIGHTS, CLAIMS, COMPLAINTS, DEMANDS, CAUSES OF ACTION, PROCEEDINGS, LIABILITIES, OBLIGATIONS, LEGAL FEES, COSTS, AND DISBURSEMENTS OF ANY NATURE AND KIND WHATSOEVER AND HOWSOEVER ARISING, WHETHER KNOWN OR UNKNOWN, WHICH NOW OR HEREAFTER EXIST, WHICH ARISE FROM, RELATE TO, OR ARE CONNECTED WITH YOUR ACCESS TO AND USE OF THE WEB SITE.
So which is the real North Shore Credit Union? Is it scented candles and pots of fresh coffee, or is it barking incomprehensible website law?
If companies really want to give themselves a makeover, then the language they use is a big part of any cultural change. The new North Shore looks great – but the language doesn’t match. They’ve broken the mould with boutique branches; maybe it’s time to think about how their boutique bank sounds, too.
Our Ed has waxed lyrical before about how much he (and we) like the name Little Waitrose.
Just as good is Petit Pret (Pret A Manger’s compact cousin). Obviously, it’s exactly the same idea. Just in French.
It feels like a whole genre: cute brand extensions. Little Waitrose, Petit Pret, Dave Ja Vu, and the sadly defunct BMI Baby. They’re ace.
Sometimes a tiny bit of writing can be inordinately powerful.
Us Writer trainers spend quite a lot of time in the air, and I usually fly British Airways (for the points, and the ineffably polite cabin service, occasionally tinged with a note of public-weary sarcasm). But one thing I love about BA is that when I print out my boarding pass at home, it says at the top:
Mr Neil Taylor, you’re ready to fly.
It’s just so... exciting. Romantic. Like I’m about to step onto an aeroplane (no, hold on, definitely an airplane) in Rio in 1953. Or something. And that little ‘Mr’ is important, too. I don’t get mistered very often (and when I do, I don’t always like it). But BA pull it off.
None of which usually bears much resemblance to the rest of my flight. But it sets me off with a spring in my step and a smile on my face. Just like one of our workshops in California: a woman brought along a receipt from the US outdoorsy brand Prana. She’d kept it in her purse for five years because she liked a quotation they’d printed on it. How much would an ad agency pay for that ‘share of mind’? Every time she got her money out, she saw this brand. For five years (and counting!).
It cost them virtually nothing to do. But it’s why we think the nooks and crannies of a brand’s writing can be priceless.