The term branding is a well-known buzzword. The success of your store depends on your brand and how it is perceived in the community. But there’s also a lot confusion. Everybody talks about branding. There are over a billion books about it on Amazon. Yet, there is still much to learn about brand equity and what it is. It’s not difficult to brand; it’s simple when you know what it is and what it isn’t.
Although you may have spent hours creating the perfect logo for your store’s brand, it is not your brand. The red star in every Macy’s advertisement? It’s not a brand, but a logo. Your brand is not just your website or blog. It includes everything you use to promote your store, such as brochures, business cards and bags, but also your advertisements, brochures and business cards. Your brand is more than just the name on your front door. These are all critical components of your brand identity. However, they are not the brand.
A brand can be described as the emotional connection, or physical reaction, customers have when they hear your name, see your logo, or visit your website. This is what you are able to give them. Adrienne Weiss Corporation CEO, said that a brand is a country with its own unique language and customs. We are willing to bet your store has its own customs and traditions. We’ve put together a list of things you can do to build your brand using this definition.
Step 1: Start writing the story of your store
Although it sounds simple, this step is not. Although it’s difficult to write about what got you to where your are today, you must do it. Begin by explaining why you opened a store. Write about what makes you unique and how your store can make a difference in the lives of your customers and your local community. It should be a fun adventure that people enjoy reading. Ask your family, store associates and customers for assistance if you are stuck.
Once your story is complete, share it with others through in-store signings, social media, marketing, advertising, and wherever else you can.
Step 2: Make your store’s story a success“60 Second Elevator Commercial
When someone asked us about our profession, we used to get mad at ourselves. We would reply “We are professional speakers” and then we’d start thinking of all the cool things that we could have said. We now say that we are consumer anthropologists. We study consumers in their natural habitats, and then share our findings in our seminar presentations and keynote speeches.” If you have ever answered “I own an art supply shop” when being asked what your business is, you will know the feeling of missing out. You’ll never be in the same position again if you can write a condensed 60-second version of your store’s story.
All employees associated with your store, including teachers and associates, need to know it. Telling the same story over and again is the best way to build brand equity.
Step 3: Create a filter unique to your brand
Branding takes discipline and consistency. Every detail – from bags to fonts – must be used to tell the brand’s story. Weiss states that the brand is itself a filter. Think about yourself and the things you want to represent your store. Then imagine a huge filter. Consider using the service or item that aligns with your store’s story. If it passes your brand filter, then you can use it. Clear as mud? Let me give you an example. Home Depot is well-known for its orange color. If a supplier offered red aprons to employees at a very affordable price, would that fit Home Depot’s brand filter. It’s not true. They are great deals, but Home Depot’s orange color is not compatible with their brand identity.
These are the things that you should filter in order to make sure they accurately represent your brand.
–You can use a particular color everywhere you go.If you have chosen a specific shade of blue to be your brand’s signature color, that color should be used in all your marketing materials. Starbucks’ signature color is green; Ace Hardware uses red; Tiffany trademarked its distinctive shade of robin’s eggs blue; McDonald’s uses the golden arches. Each of these colors would be considered unacceptable as they would not pass the company’s filter.
One time, we met a retailer who was known for his signature color of red. The bright red shopping bags she sold were well-known in her shop. People saved them and took them with them everywhere. She decided that silver shopping bags would be a good idea for Christmas. She made a huge mistake and had to rebuild her brand. This is the moral of the story: Don’t accept a deal for something that isn’t your brand’s favorite color.
–Be careful when choosing the font type.You can use both upper and lowercase letters, as all caps can make it difficult for older eyes. Also, ensure that your font is easily read. Fonts that are great in 14 points can be difficult to read when they are enlarged on storefront signs.
–Gift certificates, bags and boxes You run a unique and upscale store. It might seem easy to buy plastic bags that look like those found in grocery stores. But, this is not you. You have many options through a variety store supply companies. You can also personalize plain bags with stickers. The same goes for boxes.
For big box retailers, plastic gift cards wrapped in paper sleeves might work. However, you should be creative with your presentation. An lingerie store might place gift cards inside a box with scented tissue paper and a bow. A baby and toddler retailer would place their gift cards inside a baby bottle decorated with colorful ribbons. Your gift cards will be packaged in a way that represents your brand.
–Bring your brand to sales floorsYour largest brand-building asset is your sales floor. Your brand identity is reflected in every part of your store, including the restrooms. Do you have your trademark colors? Do you use quality fixtures? Are the merchandise properly signed and does the sign include your brand’s font? Is it easy to identify store employees? Every element is important in the creation of your brand culture.
–In-store experiences that are uniqueIf you offer customers a reason to shop at your store, they will be more likely to return. There are many reasons to keep customers coming back to your store, such as classes, events in-store and loyalty clubs. Shoppertainment is a wonderful place where entertainment and shopping meet. You can increase your brand’s visibility and build your brand by hosting at least one MAJOR and up to two to three MINOR in store events each month. – Note that even during a pandemic, you can still host in-person events or virtual events. Major events attract new customers to your store, while minor events like demos and classes attract fewer shoppers. Both are vital.
–Online, build a strong brand presence.In the past, shoppers used to walk through the phonebook by themselves. Today they visit your website. A website is no longer an option. You need a real website as in www.thenameofyourstore.com – websites have become the equivalent of business cards.
Your website is your greeter. It should be consistent with your brand image and provide a clear example of what customers can expect from your store.
Your brand is represented by the photos and information that you post to your website, social medias, and in your email blasts. Before you publish anything, think about the content. Make sure you check your spelling. Also, test the links to ensure they work. Your email address can tell a lot about you. AOL, Yahoo!, Gmail, and AOL addresses are great, but not professional. You need an email address that comes from your own domain name, as in email@example.com.
–Be a self-promoter without shame.Public relations is the best way to build your brand, other than word-of mouth. You should issue a press release about everything you do. Your input is needed by the media. Did you know that most stories in local medias are based on a single-page press release that was sent by someone like yourself with a story to share? Brand equity can be built for as little as a stamp, or simply by clicking “send” in an e-mail. ClickClick HEREFor more information on how to create a press release, click here
If you are too busy to manage the public relations yourself, consider promoting an associate to the role of Director of Public Relations. Get business cards with the name of your new director and their important title printed on them. Your media contact will be your new director. He/she will collect names of local journalists and writers, distribute press releases, represent your store at Chamber of Commerce events and local functions, and write press releases.
–Designate an official “Keeper” of the BrandThis gives the person full control over what is purchased and what isn’t. The Keeper of the Brand must approve any store-related items before they can be implemented. It’s OK to go forward if it’s approved by the Keeper.
The truth is that you will eventually get tired of your brand before your customers start to recognize it. According to the Marketing Rule of Seven, a customer must have seen or heard your message at least seven times before taking action. Or they will remember you. You shouldn’t change your logo, colors, or tagline. These are all part of your brand identity. Give it time.