Wednesday, December 30, 2009

I spy with my little eye... branded language!

'I spy with my little eye... something's missing!'

So starts a letter I've just had from First Direct about our application to open an account. We're changing our bank account, in reaction to poor service at our previous award-winning customer-oriented bank. What was missing was information they hadn't previously asked for, so to my ear the headline is not only infantilising but blaming. Perhaps I hadn't said 'please' when I asked for a bank account.

In the same post we also got two identical welcome packs, confirming the account is open... so perhaps they don't need the other information after all. Those letters are headed 'Welcome to first direct (you'll notice the difference in minutes)'. I don't think they are ironically intended.

Now I'm not against branded language (for that is what this is) and when in professional practice used to sell it and do it. But you can't do it in an unthinking way, and every brand doesn't have to sound as chirpy as Innocent smoothies. And you have to be realistic - First Direct's tone of voice would be fine if modulated to match my likely mood (for example, with my gender, age and expressed unhappiness with previous bank, I clearly fall into the grumpy old man demographic). But their systems don't match the aspirations of their brand.