There’s an incredible Italian Deli near me. I was told about it by a colleague who raved on and on about its enormous range of weird and wonderful products. It wasn’t easy to find as it’s tucked away in an anonymous housing estate on the outskirts of Maidenhead
Shopping there became part of my weekend routine. Dropping in to rifle through the dark and cluttered shelves, searching for illusive ingredients or just picking up obscure fruit and veg. imported directly from Italy. And of course enjoying the smell of Espressos’ being made for customers, the loud TV permanently tuned to RAI and the shouting of the couple in their late sixties who run the place.
Anyway I had to pop in there the other day on my way back from London to get some fresh yeast for a pizza that was planned for the evening meal. I thought the road outside the store looked a bit different – no double-parked cars, no delivery vans, in fact no vehicles at all. Getting closer I saw in the window a sign saying ‘CLOSED’.
Irritated at first and then scared – had they closed down? Permanently? Phew, no they had moved. Just round the corner in another dead end street on the same housing estate. A quick seven point turn and there was the new place – posh parking outside, automatic sliding doors at the entrance and beautifully-tiled aisles, with neatly laid out shelves, plus posh check out tills and a state of the art deli counter for their meats and cheeses.
It was easy, it was clean, and it was quick. It was also dead. No daft hand-written signs, no wonky TV hanging off the ceiling, no dark corners. No personality. They’d replaced an experience with a Tesco clone.
And that’s what can happen when brands get ‘refreshed’. They get neat and tidy. They get clearer. They eliminate all the irritations. But they lose all the personality as well. Updating a brand is not just about making shopping easier or improving recognition, it’s also about keeping the elements we cherish. Those occasional consumers gained could just be acquired at the loss of passionate loyalists.