Generic Building Syndrome

Have you become a victim?

Have You Become a Victim of Generic Building Syndrome?

Here’s an activity I often do in seminars.  Think about your high school graduating class.  Now write down as many people from your graduating class as you can think of in one minute.

When you get done, take a look at the list.  Most likely, the first people you came up with were your close friends.  The second ones you came up with were people with big personalities.  In other words, they had unknowingly created memorable brands.  Everyone else was functionally forgotten.  It doesn’t matter if you would have come up with more if given more time, as the average person gives a fraction of a minute to decisions on how they will spend their personal activity time.

Now think about your museum not as it relates to a list of other museums, but rather based on how it relates to all other possible activities in your town.  Why all other activities in town?  Because, as museums, we don’t just compete with other museums, we compete against every other entertainment options in the area.  We compete with performances, baseball games, movies, even staying at home and watching television.  There are a finite number of hours in a person’s day.  Anything they decide to do instead of coming to your museum is your competition.

If someone that matches your prospect group sits down and makes a list of every possible activity they can do on a Saturday, does your museum make the list?

A few things about this activity:

  1. If you don’t make the list, you are like that person in your graduating class that you did not remember, unfortunately for your museum, this also means you will not be remembered when people are making plans on how they will spend their activity time.
  2. The average person makes ‘local area’ activity level decisions in less than ten seconds, so only the first handful of ideas that come to mind will actually be considered.
  3. If you do not create a specific mental picture in someone’s head when they think about your museum, you need to work on your brand position and communication plan. I call this generic building syndrome.  To the average car that goes by, you mine as well be a generic building because they are not thinking of you.

This is a simple test that represents a minimum level of brand recognition.  This is a test you have to ace in order to retain and grow your audience.