By Published On: June 10, 2018

For years, we’ve been surprised – as a marketing company who produces content – that one blog post about the Coffee Stain Theory has been read more than any other post in our blog. And although we don’t know why, we believe it’s that the theory is the easiest way to explain why the little things matter in your brand experience with your customers and prospects. The coffee stain theory, paraphrased, states that you can do everything right with your brand experience but if you neglect some details (for instance an airline leaving a coffee stain on the airline tray) it calls into question all other details that might not be paid attention to – like maintenance.

Spend a little time looking for the coffee stains on your brand, fix them and you’ll improve your customers’ experience with your brand.

Here are some “coffee stains” to think about with brand experience:

  • If your brand stands for responsiveness and you don’t respond to mentions or inquiries on social media, you may have a coffee stain
  • If your brand purports to have personalized service and your marketing materials serve up generalized “picked for you” merchandise that isn’t, you may have a coffee stain
  • If you are a precision manufacturer and your website is out of date, you may have a coffee stain
  • If you are a bank or credit union and don’t have a good mobile banking experience, you may have a coffee stain

The point is, sometimes the smallest things (even if they are not important to you) can put people off of your brand – their expectations of you can change dramatically with one experience. So, take a moment and put yourself in your customers’ shoes to look for the “coffee stains” and polish them up. It can be the difference between your customer leaving with a good impression, or just leaving.

For more about this topic, read our post on how to determine if your company needs a brand refresh.

About the Author: Megan Devine

Megan Devine
Megan taps into her left-brain logic and right brain creativity—steering the business, bantering with her team, and strategizing on client work. She says it’s her dream job and we believe her. Using her passion and knack for understanding complex connections in business and marketing, she collaborates to create love between brands and customers. She possesses expertise and experience that only comes from persevering in the ever-changing marketing agency world. Megan co-founded d.trio marketing group, now cat&tonic, in January of 2000 and took sole ownership in 2019. Her vision, support, and sheer stubbornness got us through 9/11, the great recession, and a pandemic. She has judged the International ECHO Awards since 2005, has consulted for several organizations, and serves on several boards. Educated at Carleton College, she learned the importance of critical thinking for success. At home she learned the value of a good story.
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