I walked into the office one morning to find a nice, shiny, laminated square card on my desk. Double the size of a postcard, it wasn’t there yesterday. Who purposefully set this square conspicuously for me to see this morning? What should I do with it and why was it square?
About the size of a small laptop, this colorful square had the smell of a print shop. The colors seemed to match our corporate identity: orange, grey and blue. Actually, the blue was more navy, something I learned watching HGTV’s Property Brothers.
Words were printed all over the card in an order that seemed reminiscent of recent discussions about values, attitudes and ground rules. We were about to begin a company wide success week designed to motivate our 300 person global team. Perhaps this was part of the launch activities that I was not aware of.
I wheeled around, hustled out of my office and down the stairs. Rounding the corner, I saw my destination ahead: the VP of Marketing’s office. Impatiently, I burst into her office, scaring her with my sudden, energetic presence. Breathless and holding up the square laminated card, she immediately knew my question: did she know anything about this mysterious collateral?
Of course she knew because she had it produced for our success week! But why was it a square? Seems like an odd choice for something that could be printed out in each of our offices. Serving a global company is accompanied with unique challenges to please everyone. The way you were brought up is always the right way! Her response showed me there’s more than one way to build a bridge between cultures.
Until that time, whenever marketing produced a corporate designed document, it was either in American (8.5" x 11") or European (A4) format. Since most of the marketing team was based in the US, usually the US format was chosen. When a German employee wanted to use the documents, there were always problems printing out the documents to the desired quality and fit since the paper sizes were different. We were constantly trying to build bridges between the cultural differences of the US and Europe.
In our business, perception is reality. Customers around the world complete their orders with us because we make the customer feel as if we are locally produced. Whether its using the local language, pricing in the local currency, accepting local payment methods, presenting tax calculations in a locally friendly way, we treat the customer as if we are their local grocery store.
The VP of Marketing told me that she chose a square size for this collateral so that everyone would have exactly the same experience. She wanted the focus on the message and not the delivery vehicle dimensions. No arguing over the US or European format to distract the key message.
That day I realized that she built one hell of a (clever) bridge out of a square.