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I’m Picking up Good Vibrations: How Poorly Branded Emails Can Hurt Your Brand

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I have recently been converted to a Which Wich fan. For those of you who aren’t familiar with the name, it’s a chain of sandwich shops. And not just any sandwiches… these are totally customizable and absolutely delicious. They have great customer service and a laid-back environment, despite how packed the place always is. So signing up for their online club was a no-brainer.

I got the first email recently, and I’ve gotta say, the Which Wich people are lucky I’m curious. They’re also lucky that the subject line didn’t throw them into my SPAM folder:

Welcome to the Vibe Club—Your Free Gift is Attached.

After frantically searching my mind to determine whether I’d opted in to an adult toy email list, I open it. The headline screams, “Welcome to the VIBE CLUB.” The brown paper bag graphics at the top, iconic of the sandwich shop, resemble paddles. So I’m still thinking Adult Toys. Then I spot the Which Wich logo tucked into the left corner.

The equally-weighted subhead yells, “Here’s What to Expect (Besides Great Vibes):”

There is, by the way, a very popular online adult store called Good Vibes. Or so I’ve heard.

The copy from here on out is okay. It spells out what you’ll get as a member, and directs you to print out the entire email and bring it to your WW location for a free sandwich. Score! Having a relatively short window of time to use this coupon is smart, as it’ll get customers in the door. Making this valid only at the store where I signed up is smart, too—it encourages loyalty, and I’m guessing they track these via that bar code on the bottom right.

So, this email isn’t a total fail. But Which Wich has a little room for improvement. There’s no mention of their name in the subject line, and using words like Vibe and Free is a risky gamble. The branding is overshadowed by clunky design and a clever attempt at site navigation actually makes things crowded. The design combined with the copy comes off as a cross between XM Radio and the Boom Boom Room.

I’m also not crazy about the name of this club. I had no idea it even was the name until I got this email. I signed up for this as POP, while buying a sandwich, and I don’t remember a “Vibe Club,” which means the branding isn’t resonating with me.

These issues can be solved pretty easily, with a cleaner look using less image-heavy design, and by giving less real estate to the headlines. The Which Wich brand needs a little more voice for immediate recognition. And the messaging hierarchy just needs to be rearranged to get the urgency of the free, limited-time sandwich offer, and the details of the club can be secondary.

With a few minor tweaks, this email could easily be as delicious as the Which Wich sandwiches (and milkshakes…mmmmmm.).