Vinyl Graphics Bring Your Outside Customers in From the Cold
- July 24, 2018
On the northern edge of the United States’s heartland, in the crown of the region that supplies the milk, cheese, and butter to a nation and beyond, a major food processing and distribution company is committed to sending a message of peace and appreciation. The message is five stories tall and backlit with vibrantly colored lights that illuminate the downtown streets of one of the state’s major metropolitan areas.
The titanic silhouette of a cow’s head looms over one of the busiest intersections of the downtown area with the outline of the shape of a heart resting just above its head. The message of the company’s love for cattle is clear, and it touches the hearts of the residents and tourists who pass through the area enjoying all of the fineries that the area’s cows provide them. Appreciation for the bovine is not just felt here; it is lived, and this company wants everyone to know that despite their glossy corporate exterior, they are living it too.
The Evil Empire
Down the street not more than a half a mile is the production facility of one of the city’s other major foods producers. This competitor projects a much different image than that of the cheerful colors and livestock appreciation displayed by its neighbor. Their colors are stern, drab, and dreary. There are no playful logo designs to accompany the no-nonsense font of the company name on its signs.
This company sits just off of a major thoroughfare as well. Just behind its office buildings, its grimy processing facilities belch steam and smoke into the city’s skyline. Every day, the denizens of the city watch mournfully as trucks with dirty livestock trailers turn through the intersections to haul their unfortunate inhabitants to a brutal final destination. The people of the area do enjoy their burgers and their sausages, but they prefer not to be reminded of their furry points of origin. It may be a little delusional, but it comes from a compassionate place.
That compassionate place is what the cow and the heart window decals down the road tap into. Both companies are food processing and distribution companies; the difference is in presentation and appearance. The cow and the heart decals deliver that difference in a powerful but friendly way, and it creates an undeniable effect in the manner with which the public views each of the companies. In this case, appearance is everything.
A Part of the Community
The exterior walls of the building on which the cow and heart decals are located is almost
completely comprised of clear glass. From two different major downtown streets, you can look directly into their office levels to their brightly colored workspaces. You can see the computers and personal effects on their desks. You can see the artwork they use to decorate their hallways, the well-lit offices in which they make their executive decisions, and the smiles with which they conduct their phone conversations.
Between all of that and the outside world are the cow and the heart decals. The decals keep the floor to ceiling windows from seeming like an invisible barrier. They connect the company to the public through the divide. It’s a communication instead of a snub or a dismissal. It’s almost impossible to see that building and to avoid noticing the cow and the heart decals. And, once you’ve seen them, it’s difficult not to imagine what conversations led to the decision to put them up. It’s easy to envision the employees inside staring up at those decals when they were new and considering them the way that we do from outside. The decals on the transparent walls of the sleek, modern building create a shared space in a structure that may otherwise seem elitist and exclusionary.
One Common, Shared Space
This is how decorative decals and logos on transparent glass surfaces differ from traditional signage. They create a connective space between the customer outside and the company within. Instead of acting as a stopping point for one party and a starting point for the other, the transparent surface decal allows for a smooth, comfortable, continuous transition. That shared middle ground, the common space, the communal idea, offers what both corporations and consumers have been longing for all along – a sense of active connection.
Companies spend years, sometimes decades, searching for a means by which they can connect to their potential customer base. The answers often seem elusive and ethereal. They attempt it through logos, through text advertisements, through recorded commercials, through signage, and now through active social media engagement. More often than not, however, these efforts seem to fall short in that they don’t instill in the customer a genuine feeling of togetherness with the company.
What Customers Really Crave
A 2016 article in the Harvard Business Review titled An Emotional Connection Matters More than Customer Satisfaction explained how businesses with even the most earnest of customer service operations and strategies were missing the mark in their attempts to connect with customers. The campaign of providing customers with more and more extensive services and offerings had already reached well beyond capacity, according to the article, and a situation of diminishing returns had already begun. Customer appreciation for companies catering to them in practical ways has reached the point of oversaturation.
What customers crave, the article claims, is a genuine feeling of emotional connection with a company that is not accomplished through friendly smiles, perks, gifts, or extensive services. The customer is aware that such efforts are deployed as a means of positively affecting them and not as a reflection of the company’s own internally generated feelings or values. They recognize the one-sided nature of such services and that there is a failure of exchange between the two parties. Servitude and mutual understanding/agreement are two entirely different things.
The cow and heart decals are simple, but brilliant in their nuance. They’re not trying to sell anything to the outside world or provide anyone with any sort of bribe. They don’t come across as one-directional pandering to a targeted audience. In fact, unlike a sign or a commercial, they don’t come across as one-sided or targeted at all. They come across as an openness and an invitation to join them in that openness. That is what customers are really hungry for.
When we give the customer what they are craving, when we establish that connection with them on a level of shared values and interests, we make the relationship more inviting. Maybe this means that they physically walk into a retail space or maybe it means that they decide to engage with a company online or even through subsidiary companies. The important point is that the connection created by the decal , that connection that the Harvard Business Review claims is true way to win customers, is either literally or figuratively inviting the customer into the company and into a business interaction with them. This invitation, because it is more genuine and more balanced than pleading, pandering, or strong-arm advertising tactics, is more effective at opening the door for entry by first-time customers.
The physical nature of the vinyl graphic on transparent glass makes it a difficult customer connection phenomenon to try to reproduce in any other way. It provides a real-time sense of sharing a moment, an idea, and a value that seems unique in its sincerity. A sign attempts to ensure that the company is heard. Excessive customer service attention is an overcompensation in an effort to assure the customer that the customer is being heard. A vinyl graphic on the glass separating the internal corporate world from the external consumer world appears to offer possibility that both parties are being heard and are coming together on common ground. This is the organic connection through which customers and companies can both genuinely benefit, and vinyl graphics are one of the most effective and affordable ways to make that connection happen.