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Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Branding Lessons with the Newlyweds at Elitch Gardens

Last Saturday, my niece Valerie and her husband Jerry treated me to roller coaster riding at Elitch Gardens amusement park in Denver. The afternoon provided great lessons on aligning branding and customer experience implementation.

A ticket booth sign promoted Rapid Ride passes – $14.99 add-ons permitting, as the materials stated, time savings by moving to the front of the line for rides. It was touted as providing more family time together at the park.

We decided to get three passes. When Valerie bought the tickets, she received a receipt for one pass, but nothing we could actually use. The ticket taker told us to check with Guest Relations. The Guest Relations worker said the receipt was an internal stub, and that although she could sell the passes, none had been delivered to Guest Relations yet. She sent Valerie back to the ticket booth to wait in line. After redoing the transaction for three passes, they didn’t have the passes either. By the time a manager brought them over, we’d blown thirty minutes getting passes to speed up our park experience.

So think about these branding and customer experience defects:

  1. A brand really is more than the name; it’s a customer’s experience with a product or service. When something’s called “Rapid,” everything about it better be “rapid.” It shouldn’t take thirty minutes for anything whose promise is based on rapidity.
  2. Don’t get focused on narrow brand attributes during naming. While they emphasize speed in the name, we also got to select our seats before anyone else. For roller coaster lovers, riding at the front or back every time is nearly as good as cutting in line. But the name obscured this attractive feature.
  3. Provide honest information about the experience customers are purchasing. At the first coaster, it was unclear how to use the passes - there were no signs. Turns out there wasn’t a special line Saturday; we had to walk up a ride’s exit line. And only after checking the passes did we learn they were good only five times and only on certain rides.

All three of these are important mistakes to avoid in reconciling what’s important to customers, the brand promise, and actual experiences!



Anonymous said...

thought that this was a particularly good and powerful blog today. Thanks,
Chuck D.

Mike Brown said...

Thanks for the comment Chuck! That means so much coming from one of my strategic mentors!

Anonymous said...

is it still like this in 09 cuz im gettin sum