Too much marketing, not enough service

Have you ever experienced over-branding? Over-branding can be manifested in many ways, but some of my favorites include a ridiculously sized logo, the unnecessary inclusion of a logo and an uncomfortable number of mentions of a company name. As an observer, I find over-branding to be amusing, but as a victim, I find it annoying. 

Two weeks ago I took my car to the dealership to have a flat tire and bent wheel fixed. What should have been a 2 hour wait turned into more than 4 hours of waiting. At the 4 hour mark, the dealership discovered they didn't even have the wheel needed to complete the job and wouldn't be able to get the part for several days. After I expressed my frustration and wonderment that they hadn't discover this earlier, the service representative offered to send me home in a loaner vehicle. He also offered to deliver my car after the job was complete. While not ideal, it seemed like they were attempting to make things right. Plus, I didn't think I could stand sitting in their waiting room much longer. 

They sent me home in this: 

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Here are a few reasons why this is wrong, from a marketing perspective. 

  • After a frustrating service experience, the last thing I want to do is drive your billboard around town. On top of that, you've invited people to ask me about the loaner car and now I will use it as an opportunity to explain everything that went wrong. 
  • You may not realize it but a lot of your customers, like my husband and I, will be embarrassed to drive this vehicle because of that sticker. Customers may be discouraged from bringing their car to you in the future, especially for major service. 
  • This is a classic case of trying to get a communication vehicle (I mean the sticker, not the car) to do too much. It does not need to list all the brands you carry, the location, the phone number, the website, your company AND call out the fact that this is a loaner vehicle. People who see this sticker will remember likely remember 1 thing, if you're lucky, they'll remember 2. 

Even if my experience had been better, I would have found this loaner to be problematic. I may not have felt compelled to detail everything that went wrong but I would still be annoyed about driving a car that forces me to advertise something. 

Brands need to remember that consumers don't like to feel used. Forcing them to promote your brand, particularly in a moment when they are unhappy, could even be damaging. Rather than looking for opportunities to promote your brand, why not focus on giving your customers a good reason to promote your brand?