The moment Sir Isaac Newton deflected sunlight through a prism, humans became fascinated by the optics of color.
Gaining notoriety as a subjective experience, the psychological effects of color have guided the evolution of brand and marketing science for generations. Efforts to kindle interest mimic nature’s laws of attraction, using color to stimulate a sense of harmony with a product’s overall value.
While many factors are known to influence preference, service continues to define the true colour of your Brand.
However, there are benefits in understanding the allure of hue, the rationale behind a brand or product’s placement on the color wheel, and how your service culture fulfills the unspoken promise of your Brand’s color palette.
The Un-Tool Man
No time like a global pandemic to get a few projects done around the house.
This gets my juices flowing. I don’t know what it is, something about words like “pneumatic”, “miter saw”, and “galvanized hex” inspire me to walk through the Contractors Only entrance like it was a birth rite.
The only problem is that Tim “The Tool Man” Taylor and I have more in common than a similar first name. Like the infamous grunter and Binford tool enthusiast, I have the best intentions without the knowledge or talent to support my vision.
Doesn’t stop me from dreaming, though.
Our most recent project involved enhancements to our back deck. While most of the materials were ordered on-line, we had to make an emergency trip for flashing and special fasteners. Again, I was in the car faster than a kid promised dinner at Chuck E. Cheese.
The two Home Improvement Centers in our community, while not directly across from each other, are almost equal distance from our home. Our chosen route took us by the Orange Option first, providing them the initial opportunity for service.
I walked through the door and took a deep breath. Both the smell of cut timber and the sweet serenade of paint cans shaking like maracas energizes me to no end. We went in search of our flashing and fasteners, oblivious to anything beyond the potential for building something new.
That euphoria was short lived.
A Stark Contrast
We couldn’t locate what we needed. Worse, we couldn’t find someone to assist us. Even worse, the staff we encountered didn’t appear to embrace the spirit of offering assistance.
My son turned to me and whispered, “This place feels kind of depressing.”
Not only was the staff aloof and unresponsive, but their lack of proprietary sense influenced the overall energy in the store. Every aisle had customers searching for products, staring at expansive shelving like scientists deciphering hieroglyphics etched into the wall of an ancient tomb.
This was in stark contrast to the intent of the Brand’s dominant color. While a trendy and popular choice when the company started in 1978, orange has remained their cultural symbol of activity, inspiring customers to do more.
Done with feeling like strangers in need, we left and drove down the street to the Blue Option.
Colour My Expectations
Color not only represents the look but expresses the feel of a Brand experience.
That feeling begins long before arrival or purchase.
The color of a product, logo, or brand packaging accounts for roughly 90% of our initial judgement. Our choice becomes an emotional extension of our expectations, the anticipated value and appeal of an experience.
Consider an iconic color reference: Tiffany Blue
If I were to present you with a Tiffany blue box, think of what that says.
You’re receiving something beautiful, handcrafted, and of exquisite quality . . . that is also quite expensive . . . and that I care for you deeply.
All of this without even looking in the box.
“But Tall Tim, you were in a Home Improvement Center, not shopping at Tiffany & Co. What were you expecting?”
Based on the color scheme of the Orange Option: Energy.
We expected to have the enthusiasm invested in our choice matched by the emotional investment of employees in their craft and service culture.
That’s the unspoken promise behind the Brand’s choice of color, and the staff’s responsibility to fulfill.
Colour Me Loyal
As children we’re taught to color inside the lines.
Consider this your license to thrill, to erase those lines and allow the emotional intent of your Brand’s color palette to permeate every aspect of an organization.
Especially your service culture.
Regardless of price, product, or profession, align your service perspective with the emotional extension of a customer’s expectations. Service execution is then free to focus on three core deliverables:
Share Your Pride Inside: Smile, Make Eye Contact
Some will list Smile and Eye Contact in reverse order.
For me, the joy you feel from your affiliation with a great company, brand, product, or work environment precedes everything, even my arrival. Smiling becomes second nature, a reflective instinct present in both customer and co-worker interactions.
When auditing teams, I first look to the relationship they share with each other. If we have a solid sense of community, we can work on carrying that over to our guest experience.
Once I am within your scope of service (anywhere from 15 – 20 feet), connect with me non-verbally through your eyes, then offer a verbal greeting as appropriate.
Never pass up an opportunity to engage with a customer or guest, even through a simple time of day greeting.
Show That You Care: Avoid Clustering
Our experience offered a great example of employees seeking the company of each other, rather than engaging with customers.
While a friendly work environment foreshadows a healthy service experience, the floor is where stars shine brightest.
Take ownership of spacing to ensure your level of approachability is genuine and fully apparent.
By George, Be Curious: Anticipate Diverse Needs
Anticipate “why” someone has chosen your Brand or product, and then apply your expertise through a natural, transparent curiosity.
In the hospitality industry, people will travel for both business and pleasure. For one, time is of the essence. The other wishes that time could stand still.
Is the person shopping an experienced professional or visibly over their head?
When taking a reservation, inquire as to a special occasion, dietary needs, or preferred seating or table arrangement.
Understanding and appreciating the differences between perspectives allows you to tailor an experience unique to the individual.
The emotional connection we feel with a product or brand begins in the subconscious. Service draws that connection into the conscious, becoming something tangible and real.
Loyalty . . . both the customer’s and yours . . . becomes the reward for fulfilling the unspoken promise of your Brand’s choice of color.
Colour My Memories
I began supporting The Ritz-Carlton shortly after the primary brand color shifted to Memorable Blue.
It is a deeply introspective hue tailored to the needs of today’s Luxury traveler, those on a personal journey in search of wisdom and depth of understanding.
Everything from stationary to business cards, presentation templates and note pads presented an emotional connection to the Brand’s Vision: To Inspire Life’s Most Meaningful Journeys.
I would lose myself on purpose, staring into the color, lured by the promise of potential and unlimited discovery.
Translating the introspective quality of the Brand’s primary color became a critical part of my Service Training. I filled the presentation screen with a blank Memorable Blue template and asked the group: What do you see?
Several sets of eyes fixated on the screen. Finally, one participant offered “Blue.”
I said, “Go deeper.”
“Really pretty blue?” he responded, more question than statement.
I revised my initial request and asked, “What do you feel?”
Soon we were collecting responses like relaxed, calm, inspired, happy, gratitude. One participant had tears, admitting no one had ever invested this much in her potential.
Having captured each response on a flipchart, I turned to the group and said,
“This is how you feel today. You have the opportunity to do everything within your power, whatever it takes, to ensure each, and every guest will experience this same feeling.”
Having traveled from subconscious to conscious, the allure of a chosen palette became something tangible, enabling service to represent the true colour of the Brand.
I would relish the opportunity to have the same conversation with your team . . . and if there is a Contractors Only entrance, I’m using it.
Thank you for spending your Tuesday with Tall Tim Talks!