The sign in the Starbucks window reads: “We welcome Service Animals.” And, in much smaller letters, it states: “No pets, please. Thanks.” Being warm and welcoming is on brand for Starbucks so it’s no surprise that their customer signage follows suit. The message easily could have been reversed with the “No pets, please!” in large letters (and an exclamation mark added for good measure) and a smaller “we welcome service animals.” But Starbucks wisely prefers their coffee cup half full, not half empty.
The Starbucks sign is a great example of the power a positive tone has on branding. A positive tone enhances our ability to connect with our audiences. Human brains are wired to understand and remember positive expressions faster than negative expressions. Telling someone to “be still” is more effective than “don’t run.”
Implications for Internal Communications: A positive tone is just as important for our internal audiences as it is for customers. Directives get through better if we explain the action we want employees to take rather than what not to do. When giving instructions for tasks, or stating policies, detailing procedures, or in countless other directives from organizational leaders to employees, it’s easy to slip into needless negative tones. Compare: “You cannot sign up until Jan. 1” to “You can begin signing up Jan. 1.”
Case Study in Positive Outcomes: Years ago, I worked with the PetSmart Store Operations team to rewrite the Policy and Procedures manual. We devised a standardized template that reflected the upbeat culture we were trying to create. The previous P&P manual was about what not to do and the dire consequences for failure to comply. In our new version, each entry began with a statement: “When this procedure is followed, [insert positive outcome].” Outcomes included things such as “your shelves will be well-stocked,” “your employees will be paid correctly and on time” and “your customers will receive refunds promptly.” Store managers and employees appreciated being treated like valued partners.
When editing internal messages, consider adding positive expressions to your checklist. Talking to your employees in a positive tone is a simple, cost-free change that over time can impact trust, employee engagement and ultimately how your brand gets delivered to your customers.
So don’t forget, err…I mean, please remember: Be positive. It works.
Devising positive expressions is one of the many group exercises in my new workshop, Speak Up and Stand Out
Leave a Comment
Only registerd members can post a comment , Login / Register