I was lucky enough to receive a massage as a gift last year, and everything about that experience fostered serenity.  The reception area lights were dim, the music was soothing, the beds were lined with thick sherpa cushions and the blankets were warm.  I was relaxed before the therapist ever began her magic.

In a nearby strip mall, a new business opened that offers “therapeutic massages.”  While that sounds nice, the sign in the window was one of those flashing “OPEN” signs in bright police-car reds and blues, and below it was a similar flashing “MASSAGES” sign.  

Nothing about the massage experience should be flashing LED red.  There is no way that I would ever consider having a massage done there, as there is not a way for the business to overcome the disconnect between the type of relaxation I seek with a massage and the message they send with that type of store front imagery.

What expectations do you convey to your clients and what story do you convey about your organization before anyone walks in the front door?  Does your signage align with the type of environment you are trying to create?  Are you using your reception area to set the tone and begin your service experience?

For some, a flashing OPEN may be exactly the right sign for the window.  But for most organizations, the message you want to send doesn’t come in faux neon.  Think carefully about the alignment between what is inside and your outside proclamation of it.

— beth triplett

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