My firm just received an assignment to work on a retail project. Not a big shopper, I started to visit a lot of stores. And, to my surprise, not every retail store felt like the Apple Store. So much time and energy is invested in developing sophisticated campaigns, social media strategies and buying media to get people to visit a store.

Just to encounter this.

An extreme example, I know. But when you look closely at the majority of stores, the in-store experience feels like an afterthought. The signage looks like it was printed in some cheap shop and you feel trapped in a never-ending infomercial from the 70’s.

What’s the point of bombarding people through your integrated strategies when potential customers feel like they are being punished when entering your store? The same is true for online stores. They can be as messy and unbearable as the above.

It’s pretty astonishing that every retailer in the world has a Social Media policy or a PR crisis strategy. But they don’t bother policing in-store brand infringement and violations. Yesterday alone I encountered dirty carpets, stained windows, faded POS material, spills and broken glass. And don’t get me started on the unmotivated, bored and annoyed employees.

We spend a lot of time talking about shiny tools and how we can make the Top 2% of brands even better. Walking through the retail horror that’s common in our world, it seems we should spend more time on getting the basics right and elevating the bottom 60% of brands.

Clean-up on aisle 15, anyone?