It’s no longer enough for retail brands to merely list the features and benefits of a product and expect to see a sales spike, says Outfit’s head of marketing Kate Smith says in this guest post, They must invest in their brand promise to ensure business success.
Your brand isn’t your tagline. It isn’t your logo, your font or your website. Your brand needs to be a lived experience and it needs to be represented in everything your business accomplishes, offers and communicates.
A brand is the promise a business or organisation makes to its customer.
Retail brands were once defined by the product they sold. But as the retail landscape evolves, brands are increasingly discovering that when it comes to a product, there is only so much differentiation they can make.
As UK-based strategic planner and marketer Stephen King succinctly explains: “A product is something made in a factory; a brand is something that is bought by the customer. A product can be copied by a competitor; a brand is unique. A product can be quickly outdated; a successful brand is timeless.”
Increasingly, what draws consumers is the entire retail experience. This “whole experience” certainly involves the product but it also incorporates how it makes a customer feel, the time invested in researching and investigating the product, the process of buying it and any post-purchase interactions and occurrences.
The differentiation for retail brands now hinges on that customer experience; that promise a brand has made.
While product is important, retail brands should sharpen their focus around identifying the promise they make to their customers, make sure it is different enough to stand apart from competitors and memorable enough to impact customer experience – staff should know how to delight and customers should be delighted.
The idea of investing in brand transcends merely a financial outlay. At its core, it is an investment in a business’s brand promise and a commitment to making sure all areas of the business deliver that promise. A brand promise needs to be represented in every aspect of a business.
Yes, brand investment requires money, but it also refers to research, time, training, policies and procedures. A financial commitment to brand is important to really embed that brand memory association and to build that hook in people’s heads on which to hang their understanding of the brand.
Brand recall is key so businesses do need to spend money on targeted branding, marketing and advertising. It is not enough for a brand to make a splash and be present in someone’s life for two weeks then stay silent for the remaining 50 weeks of the year. Marketing requires repetition to be powerful so brands should not become disheartened if they don’t experience an immediate sales bump from one radio ad or sponsored social media post. Advertising regularly in the right channels will build awareness of a brand, a product and a value proposition so that when someone is in market, your business is on their list.
Retail franchise Battery World offers a great example of this approach. After researching buying habits and gathering customer feedback, the Australian business could clearly see that most battery purchases were made when a customer’s existing product went flat. From this, Battery World invested in several approaches. It built awareness of its brand through repetitive and consistent marketing so when consumers found themselves in need of a new product, the company enjoyed strong brand recall that translated to sales. Secondly, it recognised reactive purchasing was the dominant buying pattern so extended its service offering into roadside assistance. This extension was an investment in the core brand, while also diversifying its service offering and consolidating its brand proposition.
It’s no longer enough for retail brands to list the features and benefits of a product and expect to ring up the sales. They must develop a brand promise and meet that promise at all stages of the customer experience; from the organic content posted on social media to interactions with sales staff. Likewise, it is no longer enough to merely communicate that brand promise to consumers. Businesses must continue to invest in that promise at all stages of its growth.
12RND fitness franchise is one business that faced the challenge of maintaining a strong brand during its rapid expansion, opening more than 60 franchises since 2016. Challenges quickly arose around inconsistent branding and incorrect marketing execution by franchisees. 12RND responded by investing in solid brand guidelines. They have a suite of marketing and branding assets ready for new franchise owners to use and continually invest in new marketing, advertising and promotional assets for its existing network of stores. Now, whether hitting the gym in Mooloolaba or Melbourne, the 12RND experience is consistent from the point of researching a location online through to the in-gym experience.
Regardless of the product offered, retail brands must sharpen their focus on the promise it makes to customers to build a strong identity and set itself on the path to success.