[ public relations / advertising / strategic planning / web development ]
When the Internet started to really take off, I was in college and working part time in retail. I remember at that time there was lots of speculation and worry about online merchants. Many predicted that technology would eliminate the need to “go” shopping in-store altogether and the days of the “brick and mortar” storefront were limited, while others thought it was all a just a fad that would slowly fade away. Now it’s true that some storefronts did close, and some cyber concepts did fade away, but the profitable retailers of today were able to take their goods online and run with them while also remaining successful on the mall level. What is the secret? I would say partly it’s the ability to embrace today’s constantly evolving technology and grow with it, but most importantly, a good old solid and consistent brand.
Businessdictionary.com defines the term branding as “The process involved in creating a unique name and image for a product in the consumer’s mind, mainly through advertising campaigns with a consistent theme. Branding aims to establish a significant and differentiated presence in the market that attracts and retains loyal customers.”
I love this definition because it simple, yet so true. Now, I know this term isn’t a new one – but some out there might ask what exactly constitutes a brand. Some would answer that it’s the color scheme, design or logo, perhaps a tagline of a product or company, and that is true. Logos, color palettes, design direction – those are, in a big sense, the main foundation of a brand. But a brand is really about that all around experience. It’s the feeling generated by the company, product or service – the perception of its value. It is that unique identifier that makes a consumer choose it over something similar.
The successful brand takes those unique ideals and exemplifies them for consumers to learn and love. One of the best ways to make that happen successfully is through consistency. The more unified the approach in getting a presence or product known, the more productive it can be. This is where new technology can come into play as well. No more relying on just that “SALE” sign in the window – now there are tons of ways to grab that shopper’s attention. I think that’s why the retailers that have thrived and continue to grow even in these tumultuous economic times have been able to do so. They have taken the feel and experience that was once only found in their stores to a whole new level. Now their niche in the market isn’t limited to one geographic location or even demographic, but even new shoppers can feel at ease because they KNOW the brand. They’ve not only shopped the store or catalog, they’ve seen the logo, heard the ads, watched the YouTube video, gotten the e-newsletter, seen the products on Pinterest, read a blog about it… They know where to go and what to look for because one big ball of brand has just been thrown at them.
What’s exciting to me is that is that this can be followed on any level – whether your business is a Fortune 500 or a mom & pop doing craft shows. Anyone and everyone can benefit from creating a brand and making it known. The best way to achieve that is with one solid and consistent brand identity – so that that consumers know it’s your product or service before even opening the email. If you don’t know where to start, there are a lot of resources out there that can help. In fact…I know of this really good agency with one stellar graphic design team…