When retailers set out to create a branding strategy, they are creating and marketing a vision of who they are, what they value and how their products have a place in your life. These ideas can be displayed through a design aesthetic, logo, symbol, product or more, communicating both something tangible (the product) and something ephemeral (retail identity).
Perhaps most importantly, though, a brand is much bigger than the term itself can convey. On Heidi Cohen’s eponymous blog, she quotes Bryan Eisenberg as explaining that branding is the subtotal of all experiences a consumer has with a brand, the outcome of which is dependent upon consistency, frequency and anchoring.
So, what is branding? It’s all of these things – an aesthetic, a perception, an experience – and retailers can bring this to the in-store shopping experience to realize major benefits. As the UK Design Council wrote, “Branding is an attempt to harness, generate, influence and control these associations to help the business perform better.” Thus, the brand is the idea, the subject, and branding is its targeted implementation.
What does in-store branding look like?
The store is the ultimate ad for retailers. “It’s a combination of the right setting, striking look and feel, and, if possible, innovative store design that turns your store into the ultimate, three-dimensional ad,” explained Forbes.
A great example of this is the Apple store. The storefronts, which are made almost entirely of glass, bright white walls and roaming employees are iconic and consistent in design. Not only does the elegance of the design reflect the sleekness of the company’s products, but those ever-available workers represent the company’s expertise in its products and care for its customers.
Now, how do branding elements translate into the bottom line?
Branding affects consumer behavior
A good brand can affect overall profitability and target audience purchasing. But by how much? An infographic from invesp explained the different levels on which branding can influence purchasing behaviors. For one, brands that inspire a higher emotional intensity in their customers experience three times as much word of mouth as those who don’t, with 59 percent of shoppers preferring to buy new products from companies with which they are familiar.
Most importantly for retailers seeking to boost their brand identities, the infographic revealed the brand attributes that matter the most to consumers are trustworthiness (31 percent), creativeness (29 percent), intelligence (23 percent), authenticity (22 percent) and confidence (21 percent). Similar to Eisenberg’s emphasis on consistency, frequency and anchoring, these consumer-highlighted attributes connote similar feelings about what individuals want from a human connection – understanding, excitement and reliability.
Updating Your Brand Identity
For retailers looking to create or refine their branding, start by asking these questions:
What’s the big picture?
This requires identifying the core attributes of your retail business – your goals, your offerings, your target audience and what makes you different.
What’s the end-goal?
Starting before you know where you want to end up is a recipe for disaster. Your goals might include transforming the retail market or introducing a new product. Once you know where you’re headed, it will prove much easier to shift your branding to incorporate and support these goals.
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