Friday, April 24, 2009

Breaking Up (Shouldn’t Be) Hard to Do


A friend of mine is trying to get out of a relationship, and it’s proving quite difficult.

In this case the relationship is with her gym, World Gym in Queens.

Even though the gym is down the street from her house they won’t let her stop by and just cancel. They are requiring that she send in a certified letter. This means she has to take time out of her busy schedule, go out of her way to a post office, stand in line, and get the letter certified. To make matters worse when she pressed the gym on why it had to be this way the only response she got was a not very helpful “that’s our policy”.

If brands are relationships…isn’t part of being in a strong, rewarding relationship also being able to get out of it in a respectful way?

With a minimum of drama and with a possibility of friendship in the future.

Because here’s the thing, she’s going to leave any way. She’s made up her mind. The relationship isn’t working for her. She’d rather find a gym that has a location near her home and her office. But now she’s going to leave with a bad taste in her mouth. And chances are she will tell her story to other friends in her neighborhood, thus limiting the gym’s future relationship prospects (e.g. the ability to attract new members).

In contrast, a while ago I called TMobile to break up and it was a whole different experience. I had gotten a new Blackberry at work and with it came a new plan with a new provider. When I spoke to a service rep at TMobile they didn’t push back. They listened to my reasons. Thanked me for my loyal years of service, and were respectful of my decision.

They also mentioned another option. Having completed the requirements of my contract period, they suggested I take advantage or our rich history together and switch to a lower rate plan for another phone. And that’s what I did. I kept the relationship alive in a new context. A cheaper monthly plan, perfect for my tween daughter.

I decided to stay involved with them, albeit in a lower commitment way. But I got the feeling that if I had finally opted just to cut all ties, they would have been OK with that and wished me well. Not made me feel badly for having shifting needs. And that made me feel good about our relationship and willing to recommend them to others.

Parting can be sweet sorrow, but it shouldn’t be unnecessarily difficult. That should also be true for brands. Especially these days when many of us are having to make difficult relationship choices. We need our brands to understand and leave the door open for us to come back.

That’s my point of view. What’s your twist?

What brands have made it easy or hard for you to break up with them?

5 comments:

  1. Julie, I am not a huge blogologist but I love your blog - insightful, always a good creative hook and much better written than many I have seen! On the subject of brand relationships I have had a similar experience with a gym - what is it about those guys? I have also been a customer of AT&T for 12 years and found that they have always been respectful of my tenure, backdated discounts, forgiven momentary excesses of iPhone madness in foreign lands and generally shown respect for me as a customer. I realize that others may not have had the same experience with AT&T, but as long as they respect me, I will stick with them. It's a big deal. Anyway, keep up the good blogging! Richard

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  2. Thanks for sharing and for the encouragement.

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  3. Hi, Julie. I LOVE your new blog. The branding is great...love the name, visual identity, and "What's your twist?" sign-off! Ironically, most brand blogs I have come across have crappy branding! Your blog is a refreshing change.

    Great content, too. This latest post is interesting and, unfortunately, all too common. So many companies operate in a near-term manner -- and the poor economy seems to be exacerbating this short-sightedness as companies become increasingly desperate. Thanks for this reinforcing perspective....and keep up this great work!

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  4. The brands I am tried and true to are few, and here they are:
    Ivory Soap
    I have fair and dry skin and my husband is allergic to most things and our common soap is Ivory. I love that it has the same packaging of blue and white and is easily recognizable on the shelf. We carry it in our baggage wherever we go, and if we forget one of us ends up with an allergic reaction to hotel products.
    Coca Cola
    There's nothing like the real thing, baby. We are true Americana aficionados. I love it for it's simple labeling, much the same as in the past, and the small bottles were still available last I checked. Maybe it is the trip across country when I was 14, stopping at garages for gas and finding these bottles at 25 cents in the cool machines... that rooted my loyalty. But most of all, I still know when I'm at the movies which is Pepsi and which is the Real thing. After working in the garden, there is no better quench to the thirst...
    Levis
    Are they surviving...please let it be. When I was a teen a pair of Levi's and Pro-keds meant you were way cool. As an adult, I still find them the longest lasting jean, and an attribute to America. When I traveled to Europe when I was sixteen, a pair of Levis was optimum fashion.I am loyal still.
    BreakUp
    Cream of Wheat... Why the departure form the regular version? This was my home made, down to earth alternative for kids under the weather, in need of a good healthy treat. You sold out to only available two minute version... I have left you behind for organic alternatives-but I really miss your wholesome packaging.
    Didn't realize since I logged on here, that in branding I am really a loyal American...ina ll else than wine, that is.
    Kathleen

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  5. I totally agree. See the blog post I wrote last December about my experience with T-Mobile.

    http://adam-1001words.blogspot.com/2008/12/kudos-to-t-mobile.html

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