The Mark of Quality: Are You Using Permanent Ink or Temporary Tattoos?


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The April 2008 issue of Quirk’s Marketing Research Review noted that research company Harris Interactive conducted an online survey to learn if having a tattoo made people feel or act differently. The article was interesting to me because my dad was 18 years old and serving in the USMC during the Korean Conflict when he was tattooed. The motto permanently inked into his skin boldly reads “Death before Dishonor.” If you’re an old school Marine you understand the meaning; otherwise you might think he supports the Boston hard core punk band that now uses that motto for their name. Just kidding, it would be difficult to associate a Marine from the 1950’s with today’s punk band scene.

The word “tattoo” is a borrowing of the Samoan word tatau, meaning to mark. Today, people choose to be marked for several reasons, and often to symbolize their belonging to or identification with a particular group. In some respects your brand is like a tattoo. More than just a logo, symbol or slogan though; a brand conveys to consumers a strong, positive sense of a product, its promised value, and why it’s different and better than the competition. As a marketer you’d probably like your brand tattooed over your customers’ heart. So, when it comes to “quality branding” – which centers on delivering a quality customer experience in order to build a quality brand – are you using permanent ink or temporary tattoos that only last a few days?

In the Seapine Software Quality-Ready Assessment respondents were asked: “What level of priority does your company currently assign to building quality into your software development environment?” Nearly 65% of our over 600 respondents rated their software quality initiatives as high or one of their top priorities. Those initiatives are likely to be marked with permanent ink so to speak.

However; it also appears that many companies are still not committed to quality branding. In other words, they are only paying lip service about quality, and as a result there is a discrepancy with how their customers view the relationship. Consider the following statistics from the Cutter Consortium, an IT advisory firm.

• 32% of organizations say they release software with too many defects.
• 38% of organizations believe they lack an adequate software quality assurance program.
• 27% of organizations do not conduct any formal quality reviews.

Quality, like branding must be a core business function, and it needs to be permanently inked into the skin of the entire organization to create a sustainable quality-advantage.

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