The Critical Need for Consistency In a Brand

Years ago…I got a ticket for an expired inspection sticker.

I had been in Japan and after getting back I went off on a ski trip with the rest of my engineering group. While there, the State inspection for my Explorer expired. As I was driving home (early because I had to catch a flight for another International trip), an officer was driving in the other direction. He turned around on a snowy road and pulled me over to give me a ticket.

I had the option to pay the fine by mail or I could appear in court if I wanted to argue the case. The officer told me that if I chose to mail in the fine, it had to be there before the court date or they would issue an arrest warrant for me.


Anyway…travel, travel, travel. Work, work, work. I forgot all about the ticket until the day before my court date. I needed to send a check to this courthouse and it absolutely, positively had to be there over night.

FedEx right?

That’s exactly what I did.

The next day, I called to verify that the check had arrived. I was younger then and worried more about things like this.

The clerk told me FedEx hadn’t arrived yet.

I called FedEx in a panic.

Why hasn’t my letter been delivered yet!

“Well, there was a heavy snow storm last night in that area so the driver can’t make it to the address safely.”

The clerk didn’t seem to have any problems getting there.


I called back to the clerk and asked if US Mail and UPS deliveries had been made that day.

“Yes sir, and DHL too.”

But not FedEx.

Everything turned out ok. I gave the clerk the tracking number and she apparently told the Judge and that was that.

Oh yeah, and at some point I did get my vehicle inspected too.

Funny thing is that this happened just over ten years ago (going off memory here) and I have not used FedEx even once since that day.

The moral of the story: If your going to stake your brand on a promise, you’d better damn well deliver.

I’m sure they don’t even notice the loss of my business and it’s only just now that I even realized that though I have sent quite a few overnight packages in the past ten years, I haven’t used FedEx even once. I don’t remember ever making such a decision consciously and if you break the promise of your brand with one of your clients, they might not consciously decide to stop working with you either. But chances are they will.


  1. Dr Wright on August 15, 2009 at 2:24 am

    I had a similar experience with Wells Fargo Bank. When I was still practicing I went into the bank to deposit a check and the teller told me I can not deposit this check, it belongs to the doctor.
    ( long silent stare)

    After getting the manager and an apology, I took my business from them and have never banked there since. Occasionally they will ask me to open and account and I say oh No, I cant deposit checks here!
    It was not life or death and they do not miss my business either, however, I do not feel like rewarding those who do not take care of me.

    Dr. Letitia Wright
    The Wright Place TV Show

  2. Kevin Crossley on August 23, 2009 at 2:06 am

    I enjoyed reading your post. I usually never take time to read what anybody has to say anymore. I ‘m tired of bullshit. It was what you said at the end that got me to read your story. You said that just right. If you are going to be in business, you had better deliver.

    • Dave Saunders on September 4, 2009 at 11:36 am

      Thanks Kevin, Y’know one of my earliest mentors in marketing used to say “sell the sizzle, not the steak” over and over. I always though “but what if the steak is no good?” Absolutely people buy because of the sizzle. The amount of neurological studies backing this as a fact are so numerous it’s not even worth debate. But woe to the person who doesn’t deliver because the emotions that led to the initial sale will really turn against you for a long time to come.

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