Last Saturday, my niece Valerie treated us to roller coaster riding at Elitch Gardens amusement park in Denver. The afternoon provided great branding lessons on aligning naming and customer experience implementation.

A ticket booth sign promoted Rapid Ride passes – $14.99 add-ons permitting, as the materials stated, time savings by moving to the front of the line for rides. It was touted as improving your customer experience by providing more family time together at the Elitch Gardens as you enjoyed the park.

We decided to get three Rapid Ride passes. When Valerie bought the tickets, she received a receipt for one pass, but nothing we could actually use. The ticket taker told us to check with Guest Relations. The Guest Relations worker said the receipt was an internal stub, and that although she could sell the Rapid Ride passes, none had been delivered to Guest Relations yet. She sent Valerie back to the ticket booth to wait in line. After redoing the transaction for three Rapid Ride passes, they didn’t have the passes either. By the time a manager brought them over, we’d blown thirty minutes getting passes to speed up our park experience. Needless to say, we were seeing a disconnect in the Rapid Ride pass naming and customer experience we were enduring.

So think about these three branding lessons related to defects in aligning naming and customer experience:

  • A brand really is more than the name; it’s a customer’s experience with a product or service. When something’s called “Rapid,” everything about the customer experience better be “rapid.” It shouldn’t take thirty minutes for anything whose promise is based on rapidity.
  • Don’t get focused on narrow brand attributes during naming. While Elitch Gardens emphasizes speed in the name, we also got to select our seats before anyone else. For roller coaster lovers, riding at the front or back every time is nearly as good as cutting in line. But the name obscured this attractive customer experience feature.
  • Provide honest information about the customer experience people are purchasing. At the first coaster, it was unclear how to use the passes - there were no signs. Turns out there wasn’t a special line Saturday; we had to walk up a ride’s exit line. And only after checking the passes did we learn they were good only five times and only on certain rides at Elitch Gardens.

All three of these misaligned elements on naming and customer experience are important mistakes to avoid in reconciling what’s important to customers, the brand promise, and actual experiences! - Mike Brown

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