The Cafe and Brand Consistency


I have a “virtual” office. Sure, I have an office with a desk and a phone and a stapler and a computer. But, like many folks out there, I’m able to work from pretty much anywhere. Earlier in the Summer, my wife and I took a week off to hit the Gulf Coast. We both worked a little every day from the hotel room, or the coffee joint, or the bar at the beach. All it takes is a good Wi-Fi connection. Right?

When it comes to Wi-Fi connections at my local cafe, it’s always a toss-up whether there will be a connection or not. Which is a shame, because I like the food and the place is close to the office. The folks are friendly and the atmosphere is pleasant and unobtrusive. I can get cup of coffee, a muffin, and get a lot done … that is, when there is a good connection.

Seems Murphy’s Law is the rule here. If I don’t have any pressing business to knock out, and just want to surf the net, or catch up on articles or emails, there is no problem. Everything works fine. On the other hand, say I’m trying to get approvals on a file, or need to communicate with one of my creatives on a deadline intensive project, the connection will poot out right in the middle of things. The establishment’s owner will reset the router and we’ll be back on for a few minutes. Then, poof, gone again. He’s been through various modems and routers trying to solve the issue. His provider has rewired the place. Still, roll the dice.

I’ve learned my lesson (mostly) and make sure the important stuff happens from the office computer. I save the off-line work for my coffee and muffin break. I say mostly because I came in today with the intention of writing a blog piece and posting it from here. Of course, poot.

So, today’s post was going to be a quick piece on consistency’s effect on the “brand experience”.

And it still is.

The inconsistency of a product, albeit free in this case, has caused me to alter my view of the brand experience I am receiving from this cafe. Love the food. People are great. Convenient location. Atmosphere works.  Internet doesn’t.

It’s not a deal killer, but I certainly don’t spend as much time here as I used to. I’ve found other, less convenient, spots with good coffee, good people and kick ass internet connections. These are the spots at which I’ll meet clients and co-workers for concept sessions or project briefing sessions. Meetings that require a good connection to the webbed world. Yeah, a bit out of the way, but the consistency of the other features makes up the difference.

Back at the local cafe, I see people come in, order coffee and a breakfast taco, and then sit down to their laptops. A few minutes later they are looking around to see if anyone else is on a computer. Then the questions: Hey, are you on the internet? What’s the secret to getting on the WI-Fi? Is there a password? Then they are slamming shut the computers, woofing down the taco and making tracks for the next place that can offer a connection. They will not be back.

And so the lesson for the local place, if having people use your internet is an important feature you are offering, make dang sure it works correctly consistently, as in, all the time.  For many, who only have a few minutes between appointments to slurp a coffee and jump online, poor Wi-Fi is a deal breaker.

I guess I could rig my cell phone to act as a “hot spot”. Wonder how long my “unlimited data” plan would last if I did that …