The ‘products’ of retailers are their shops or stores, which can be advertised and marketed to consumers in ways, not unlike those used on branded items. The ‘retail brand’ is often considered to be a chain of the retailer’s outlets which bear a distinctive name and logo.
Every retailer has its own brand, though some are bigger, more recognisable and stronger than others. Consumers’ recognition of a brand and affinity for its values are vital to the creation of a powerful retail brand. Branding professionals understand retail branding as a comprehensive marketing management idea, built into every aspect of the business and targeted on generating long term customer loyalty.
In branding retail goods, services and concepts, businesses expect that better levels of differentiation from rivals will lead to bigger profits. Brands that stand out from the competition can build up long-term consumer loyalty, which has two benefits: customers spend more money in your stores and consequently deny business to your competitors.
It takes time to establish a unique, readily recognised brand image. Brands take root as consumers learn about them, accumulating memories of the brand and its benefits. It is important to repeat the same brand message over significant periods of time because that helps strengthen brand associations. Without regular reminders, memories fade and are overtaken by competitors’ branding messages. Previous investment in building your brand can be wasted if you alter the brand marketing. Continuity and clarity are key. Some of the most successful businesses on the planet stick to a consistent, sometimes unchanging, brand message for tens of years because they know through experience that continuity is fundamental to the success of branding. Tinker at your peril!
Inconsistency damages a brand. Consumers are reassured by familiar harmonies and regular confirmation of their understanding, their knowledge and the facts they have gathered about your brand.
This effect is recognised in science as The Theory of Cognitive Dissonance … in other words your brand will only really succeed when you join up all the different aspects of the retail brand and get them functioning as one.
Risk management is another important function of a brand. Customers have confidence in a favourite brand because they don’t just see a familiar name, they also instantly (almost subliminally) associate it with a neat bunch of attractive features and benefits they like. And why choose some unknown brand over one you know and trust?
In short, if you are a retailer looking to build a brand to compete with the likes of ASDA or Tesco, you must first fully understand who your target market is and what best appeals to their wants and needs. You must then build a memorable brand that inspires trust. You must then put in the time and effort to promote and maintain a clear and consistent brand image.
In order for retailers to grow and stand out from their competition, they must continually promote a unique and consistent brand image designed to be as memorable as possible to consumers.
About the author: Vincent Bissette is a freelance Brand Strategy and Design Consultant with over 30 years experience of branding and rebranding businesses and organisations, systematically, thoroughly and objectively. He has worked in major Design Consultancies as well as having run his own agency for 25 years, working with SMEs all over the UK to help them modernise their brand, grow their business, attract new customers, penetrate new markets and increase their sales, market share and profit. Throughout that time, there’s not much he hasn't done or many industries he hasn't worked in. He’s a creative, strategic thinker and problem solver with a wealth of experience in diagnosing trouble spots in brands and discovering their strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats. Now based in South Lanarkshire, Scotland, he works throughout the entire UK.
Get in touch with him on Linkedin here