We’ve all probably sent some mixed signals in our lives. Like that poor boy that was head over heels in love with you because you were nice and smiled at him when you were walking down the hall. You were saying “Hey, I think you’re pretty cool as a friend!” He was hearing “She’s totally into me!” Message NOT received.  This leads to nothing but one hell of an awkward situation.

You might be thinking, what does this have to do with business?

Check out the photo above. I ran across this store on my morning walk earlier this week, and had to pull out the iPhone for a photo. This is way too good not to show my husband.

OPEN!

(Just kidding. We’re closed.)

This business owner probably had no idea how hilarious these signs looked side by side. (We all lose a little perspective in our own businesses sometimes…)  This got me thinking about how businesses can be sending mixed messages, to their clients, and just like in my story from above, run into totally awkward, uncomfortable situations.

One of the main reasons to invest money on developing a brand for your business is to avoid sending these mixed messages.

If your business is saying one thing, but your brand is saying another, chances are your customers are confused. And guess what, confused customers won’t spend their money with you.

Imagine you run a high-end boutique selling luxurious bath products made from only the finest quality Peruvian goat milk. It’s not out of the ordinary for your customers to drop over a hundred dollars with you in a single visit. Are you giving one-on-one customer service and delicately hand wrapping each purchase with lush tissue, placing it in a custom branded bag with fabric handles, or are you throwing the items in a white plastic bag sealing it up with packing tape and saying, “Next”?

Maybe soap isn’t your thing, or your brand isn’t all that fancy. Let’s say you run a little takeout barbecue shop that sells the most mouthwatering ribs north of the Mason Dixon line. Every night the line trails out the door and into the parking lot. Are you using fancy china and silk napkins, or are you using paper plates, plastic cups and wet naps? Your branding should match what you bring to the table (literally or figuratively). Otherwise it’s just confusing.

People have a bad case of shiny object syndrome lately. If you don’t catch their attention, and keep their attention (which includes not confusing them), in three seconds they’ll be onto the next thing.

So now it’s your turn. Has a business ever given you mixed signals? How did it sway your decision to do business with them (or not)?