I was in Staples recently, looking at a shelf that didn’t have exactly the product I needed.  So, while standing in the aisle at Staples, I called Office Max.

The Office Max clerk put me on hold to check availability for the product I wanted.  Suddenly, I heard a very strange acoustic resonance, noticing that the music my left ear was hearing from the speakers at Staples was the same thing my right ear was hearing in my phone, from the music-on-hold at Office Max. A coincidence?  No … the song ended and the next song came on, in both of my ears.  Staples and Office Max were using the exact same music source.

I looked in our office closet the other day and noticed that we had paper from Office Max, Staples and Office Depot.  Why be loyal to one when the experiences, let alone the products, are completely interchangeable?

Writing this post reminded me of another post from a few years ago, on tompeters.com.  The funniest part of that post was my son’s story of hearing an ad for guitar store Sam Ash playing on the radio at Guitar Center.

Customers use brand harmony to evaluate us. Every touchpoint either differentiates you or makes you blend in the marketplace like boring wallpaper.


  • Mike
    Jun 20, 2010 - 20:37 pm

    Yes, office supplies do tend to be a commodity – paper clips anyone?

    But I do think it worth pointing out that your son’s story (hearing commercial for X while at Y) is the reason that stores pump in music from special ‘suppliers’ that is commercial free, so that the ads are either non-existant, or in-house (‘Shoppers, today at Staples (XYZ), paper clips are 25c a box!).

    It just struck me that one story resulted in the next.

    Or am I wrong, and both stores happened to be playing the exact same (top-40?) radio station?

  • Randy Bosch
    Jun 25, 2010 - 09:22 am

    Maybe the movie “The Matrix” was on to something? Actually, several “Twilight Zone” episodes come to mind.

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