Pica pica


30 May 2018 : Pica #030

GDPR all sewn up.

GDPR compliant and communication illiterate.
Image © Davide Carrari

My tailor handled GDPR better than any big brand.

Like a violent thunderstorm in my inbox, it started slowly, built to a furious crescendo and then suddenly calmed. Bucketfuls of emails informing me of GDPR. Most just informed me of Privacy Policy modifications, not by telling me about the changes in plain language but by supplying a link to the revised policy in its entirety. Others asked me to confirm I still wanted to receive emails by clicking somewhere.

The vast majority had a tone that was cold and technical - legal and IT had a baby. Some were vaguely threatening; “Click confirm or you won’t receive any more updates from us.” Most were condescending and written with the interests of the sender in mind, not the recipient. At best they were a missed opportunity, at worst they actively damaged my perception of the brand.

Why a missed opportunity? An event, like GDPR, that forces brands to communicate with the public simultaneously and about the same subject is so rare I think it might be unique. It’s like some massive exam, it is inevitable that comparisons are made, scores tallied, even involuntarily and subconsciously. Because I build brands for a living my evaluation was conscious, the following are the grades I awarded.

The fails.
These brands managed to convey the suspicion that their previous use of data was sketchy. They dramatised the changes GDPR was bringing. They were incomprehensibly technical and detailed. Often they required some form of opt-in action (which I didn’t take).

The passes.
Brands that calmly conveyed the idea that nothing was radically changing. Despite being very dry in tone they were written in simple language and brief. These were acceptable because they gave the impression that the brand was GDPR compliant even before GDPR was invented.

The good.
A tiny minority of brands used a little creativity to remind me they cared about my opinion of them and cared for my privacy rights. Sounds simple but I’ll repeat what I said earlier; most were written with the interests of the sender in mind, not the recipient.

The exceptional.
My tailor. At the top, a professional, photographic portrait of the five people who work there. Below, a mere 93 words that, in a familiar and reassuring tone, explain that they are GDPR compliant. Nicely formatted, it ends with a quote from Epictetus; “Know first who you are, and then adorn yourself accordingly.”

Obviously, the essence of my tailor’s brand is style. This small company managed to distill their brand essence into an email about GDPR and in doing so they shamed a large number of massive international brands.

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