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Little things can mean a lot

It is sometimes the little things about what you do and say that give away your personality. This is especially the case with companies. You can't help looking at the Disney logo with its cursive writing of the word "Disney" without thinking it is a friendly, family entertainment organisation. Apple's logo with its clean bite reflects immaculate design, innovation and creativity. The Nike Swoosh leaves you feeling energised and wanting action.

These are front of house tell-tale signals about a company. There are others that are equally subtle. The way a company decorates its office can reflect its personality whether it is the colour of the walls, quirky art work, or themed meeting rooms. Product packaging says a lot about the company. It's easy to fall prey to Apple's iconic box that contains the iPhone and keep it for posterity.

Imagine you go to a hotel and decide you don't want to be disturbed and look for the door hanger. It reads "Shhh... Recovering from a wild night. Do Not Disturb!". This, you might think, is a venue that doesn't take itself too seriously. So too you may feel warm about a hotel with door hangers featuring sleeping animals with a message like "Bear with me, I'm taking a catnap. Do Not Disturb!"

We have become interested in inventive door signs in pubs and restaurants that signify the appropriate gender for the loo. Most have the classic "M" and "F" sign, the cartoon male or female stick figures or simply a sign that says "Ladies" and "Gents". What would you think of something more creative such as a sign with the toilet seat up and the other with a toilet seat down or one, which more obscurely, features a “sausage” and the other an “egg”?

The thing about these little things is that they say a lot. Company values are embodied in an email signature or even the employee dress code. A friendly sign-off at the end of a note and generous contact details indicates a company that is reaching out. Open shirts and jeans suggest a laid-back and casual atmosphere while suits and ties hint of rules and hierarchies.

When we meet someone for the first time we have learned to look for clues that inform - the way they dress and carry themselves; what they say and how they say it. These small things tell a story though we should always bear in mind that famous saying "You can't tell a book by its cover". When we are weighing up a company we know these small things can matter but it is important to consider more substantial factors such as its financial performance, customer reviews, employee satisfaction, and overall reputation in the industry. We should approach judgments with an open mind and consider multiple aspects before assuming that the owners of a pub are sexist just because one toilet door says "blah" and the other says "blah blah blah blah blah".


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