Jun 18, 2010

Is this message for me?

"Is this the same super market which my colleague just talked about? It does not seem so. I am on a wrong website."

This was my first reaction when I landed at the website of a new chain of super markets which has opened in the city. Just a while back my colleague told me of this new super market chain and asked me to check it out. He said it was good.

When I landed on the 'well-designed' website, the first thing which caught my eye were the images of people shopping, which they have put on the home page. The images show people buying stuff at a super market.

This was the problem in this communication by the super market guys.

If I see 'Indian' faces on this website, my brain will immediately tell me that I am on the correct website. This is my world. I understand it, I connect to it.

When I am visiting an Indian website and you show me foreign faces (nothing against foreigners here) the first reaction is: "Am I at the wrong place? Is this some foreign super market in a foreign country?" These website guys had actually bought foreign photos and were using them on their websites. That's what caused the confusion.

I consider this a 'communication crime'. These images are sending out cues to the audience which makes them feel out of place. This switches them off and they turn back on the message.

The lesson for presenters and communicators is this: The images we use, the examples we give and the stories we share should be such that our audience can relate to them. That's the only way they will understand us better. Otherwise, they will switch off.