Visit any store in your local mall, hire someone to perform a job around your house, or visit the newest website and you’ll capture it. You’ll come away from each experience with something very profound. It’s a few words compiled into a short sentence. It will affect your future and it may have profound implications for your friends, family, and even the person you meet on the street.
It’s something so simple you may not realize it even exists, yet we create them on a daily basis. It’s called a “Key Value,” and it happens in our minds. It’s the few words or sentence we create to describe our experience.
Here are some examples…
- Walk out of a Krispy Kreme doughnut shop and the words may be hot and delicious
- Experience Disneyland and the values might be fun and excitement.
- Fresh and clean might describe having your carpet cleaned.
- Paying $1.59 for a small soda at Wendy’s might elicit what a rip-off
These key values are commonly shared with our friends and family. If they are positive, our friends will want to experience them. If they are negative, people will stay away. These key values are a mixture of the other SPARK values. When you combine the business story with the quality of the product and experience it in the unique business atmosphere while following the routine path, these items form a synergy that can be expressed in just a few words.
The interesting thing is that only one of the SPARK values need be negative and the entire key value may end up negative. Take Starbucks as an example. They have a compelling story with a wonderful atmosphere and an intuitive routine. Their product quality is exceptional but what key value would you take away if their paper cup leaked all over your freshly pressed white shirt?
Attention to detail is paramount and the little things can really sway a customers opinion. If you are sitting in a window seat at a 5 star restaurant and you notice a dead fly on the window sill will your key values be positive? When you have to fill out that webform three times to get it to work… maybe the routine will sway your opinion of an otherwise fine business.
The problem with first impressions isn’t that they’re not important (They are important! They’re crucial!) but that we have no idea at all when the first impression is going to occur. Not the first contact, but the first impression. That’s why authenticity matters.
Since we don’t know when first impressions occur, having positive SPARK values are very important.