If You Say It, Mean It — Pret a Manger Clearly Doesn’t

If You Say It, Mean It -- Pret a Manger Clearly Doesn'tPromising and failing to deliver is much worse than never making the promise. That’s what the Red Cross is finding according to business researcher Scott Deming. Unfortunately, I see this pattern rearing its ugly head all too often, and it’s absolutely antithetical to the authenticity that is so critical to building strong relationships with your target audiences.

Here’s an example of gross inauthenticity I picked up on during a recent lunch at Pret a Manger(“ready to eat” ala pret a porter). This well-designed, British-born grab-a-quick lunch chain strives to brand itself with its healthy and homemade food and its caring for its customers:

We don’t like big food factory/depot/processing places. We make our stuff fresh so we can sell it fresh (it’s old fashioned but works well). We’d rather offer our sandwiches to charity than keep them over to sell the next day. We simply don’t need to sell old food.

Now, Pret seems to be taking its customer focus/healthy food one step further with the distribution of a Pret story book at the cash registers and on the tables. Good Stuff reviews Pret’s brand promise by outlining its food buying and preparation strategy in pages peppered with Chinese proverbs. Then co-founder Julian Metcalfe asks Pret customers for their help on a couple of things — alerting him to outstanding employees, new food ideas, and general complaints.

But get this: Julian reminds customers about his passion for feedback-based improvement and urges customers to get in touch. But…..there’s an general office address but no quick and easy contact info — email OR phone — in the booklet. Realistically, folks are just far less likely to send a letter than to pick up the phone or send an email. And since Pret is all about the quick and easy…

If you say it, mean it. Otherwise, you risk losing audience trust and interest as their bad experience becomes your organization’s real brand.

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Nancy Schwartz in Branding and Messages, Case Studies, Nonprofit Communications | 4 comments
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