Branding: Scripts

Posted on April 19, 2010


The key values for any successful brand in the 21st Century will be simplicity, patience, relevance, accessibility, innovation, omnipresence, and humanity*. I want to talk about that last one today.

The Special Olympics is fund-raising now, and it’s a great cause. I got a call from them, and several things struck me about the call that were all branding mistakes. Since I work with scripts all the time at the Census, the obvious use of a script in the fund-raising call struck me, and my comments are in reference to that.

  • Verbatim: The fund-raisers are using a verbatim script. They have to stick to the exact words. That really reduces the expression of humanity during the call. The caller cannot alter the presentation for the specific customer, nor for the caller’s natural speech patterns.
  • Lying: The first thing in the script is “Don’t worry, we’re not asking for donations.” Okay, you’ve already told me you’re calling for the Special Olympics. You’re either recruiting me to participate (I’m not eligible), recruiting me to administer it (love to, let’s talk pay scale), or asking for a donation. You can give me a “free gift” in return for a donation, you can sell me something rather than asking for money straight out, but you’re still asking me for money. Don’t insult your customers with something that they won’t believe.
  • Professionals: The Special Olympics opted to contract a professional fund-raising organization for the calls. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, but it’s a shame this specific group couldn’t come up with a better presentation.

If you’re going to use scripts, hire people with good judgment and then let them alter their presentation for their speech patterns and for the specific person with whom they’re interacting. As long as they’re getting your information out, don’t worry about absolute control. Don’t say things that ruin your believability, because that makes everything else an uphill struggle.

Your brand will thank you.

*A New Brand World, Scott Bedbury and Stephen Fenichell, Penguin, 2003.