Die Burger newspaper’s brand suffers at the last throw.
Die Burger, an Afrikaans-language newspaper in South Africa, is an excellent regional newspaper that recently won a prestigious national award for its layout and design.
So why then does it come flying over my garden gate many mornings, often regardless of whether the ground is wet from overnight rain, bound only with a strip of torn plastic wrap? The first impression is hardly that of a well-written and well-designed newspaper.
In comparison, other newspapers I subscribe to arrive at my house enclosed in plastic sleeves, sometimes with the paper’s masthead prominently displayed down the side: a far superior first impression. (To be fair, Die Burger is occasionally delivered in a clear plastic sleeve.)
The problem, I suspect, with the delivery of Die Burger is that responsibility for the actual delivery is far removed from those who write for the paper or design its layout. They probably aren’t even aware that their daily labour is held together for its flight into my front yard by a tied strip of tatty plastic.
However, that is the first thing I notice: brands flourish in the details, especially those that are the first to be exposed to the customer.
Not having control, or at least influence, of all aspects of the brand’s interaction with its market is very much an old-fashioned product mindset of it’s enough just to assemble an acceptable product and the market will be satisfied.
Today, brand management and brand success require that those who assemble a product be concerned about how their product is experienced by the market long after it has left their direct supervision.
UPDATE -- 30 May 2006
Apparently I wasn’t the only consumer disappointed with the way the newspaper was delivered and, to their credit, the newspaper have taken note and acted quickly by replacing the local distributor who wasn’t following delivery guidelines.
Just as the original delivery had been a text book example of how a brand experience can be ruined by a someone down the line not respecting and adhering to what the brand stands for, Die Burger’s response was a text book example how to deal with valid criticism.
The problem was fixed shortly after being brought to their attention, I was contacted telephonically and via email by customer services who apologized and explained what steps were being taken to correct the situation. And ever since the newspaper has arrived in a plastic sleeve with the newspaper’s masthead down the side.
So the original post was right that Die Burger wasn’t aware about how the paper was being delivered, but the quick customer care response shows that I was wrong to suggest that an old-fashioned product mindset was prevalent.