Branding Gets Impersonal – Happy New Year Wishes by A.Person

It seems that the new year is as good a reason to send out an email to one’s database. It’s always interesting to see how and impersonal happy new year 1to what extent brands try to use such “obvious” occasions to generate sales. Some brands are more blatant or lazier than others. The element that leaves me flabbergasted is the wholly impersonal tone that most of these emails take . For most of us, the BS detector is already out in full force. It doesn’t take much for me to want to unsubscribe. If spring cleaning is a few months off still, the new year’s resolution to cleaning out your email inbox must have crossed some people’s mind!

As an example of the most basic style, this happiness portal (above left) linked the new year’s resolutions to a 35% new year’s sale. In this variety, it’s the rational: “hey, happy new year and by the way here’s a discount.”

impersonal happy new yearA home decor eCommerce portal saw fit to offer a 16% discount because of the new year. I guess I’d rather wait for 2099 for this idea to come around again.

These types of offers have, shall we say, first degree salesy-ness. There is no effort to customize or personalize. The link between entering into the new year and the offer is tenuous and/or schlocky.

Then there are the brands who see fit just to take up a slot in your inbox with a pure Happy New Year message, enrobed or augmented by a more or less authentic sentiment. Here is one of those:

impersonal happy new year 2 Kerastase

This brand is a “family”? Really? Of course, if I were family, it seems that they ought to know my name? In any event, despite the existence of powerful and customizable CRM services, it doesn’t take long to see that the bulk of brands are still just in a push mentality with yet another impersonal mail.

Meanwhile, the new year’s email that really caught my attention this year came from a marketplace portal in France. In the title, it read (in French):

N.President#1 et E.President#2 vous souhaitent une bonne année 2016 !

The translation is simple: The two co-presidents wish you a happy new year 2016. Where I applaud the idea is that they used the name of the two top people directly in the title of the email. Where the message failed to capitalize was by not bringing to life the presidents. If the French often prefer a more formal type of communication style, the proximity might have been enhanced had they used the first names (vs the first name initial and last name) and, within the body of the text, added images of the presidents. As such, the text was dry and lacking in sparkle (although I will avow that the branded image they did use was a tad quirky). For managers brought up with the old school of marketing, it can seem like a huge leap of faith to add true personality into the messaging. Some CEOs, who are the brand (i.e. Branson at Virgin, Hsieh at Zappos..) have the knack and courage to be personal and “out there.” For many, they stay within the bounds of political correctness, formality and legacy thinking.

Your thoughts and comments are, as ever, welcome.

 

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