August 14/21: Volume 32, Issue 5
By Steven Feldman
As you thumb through this edition, our annual Power of Brands, issue, you will find verbiage submitted by some of the industry’s leading manufacturers on what they believe separates their brand from the pack. That is expressly directed at you, the retailer. But I will pose this question: How do you differentiate your brand to consumers? After all, your store is your brand. If you can’t tell me how your store is different than the one down the block, then you probably aren’t. (Don’t tell me you have better salespeople. They didn’t graduate from MIT and you didn’t hire Ford models.)
Remember, your store is your brand. Most consumers have awareness of only a handful of flooring brands, if that many. So much of their decision as to where to shop and hopefully purchase has to do with your store and brand. With that said, I recently came across an article that delved into the rules retailers should follow for creating a strong brand in their marketplace.
- Your brand must communicate your store’s image. Retail brands should serve as reinstatement of your store’s identification. It’s important to note that true brands build customer loyalty, even through economic downturns and recoveries. The quality of the merchandise should be communicated effectively. For instance, you can instantly tell the difference between Target and Saks Fifth Avenue every step of the way, from the exterior to the signage and throughout the interior.
- Top management must be committed to supporting the brand’s strategy. Private-label branding should not be a function of individual buyers within a category that are autonomous from each other. Top management needs to synergistically work with a skilled marketing team. Your store brand must be broader than any individual item in the store or single category. XYZ Flooring must encompass carpet, wood, tile, LVT, etc., and be overarching.
- Create your store brand cohesively. It’s not usually a good practice to imitate other brands, at least not if your purpose is to build store brand or company name equity. You don’t want consumers to think of you as “like Target” or “like Nordstrom” or like anything else for that matter.
- Define your store’s point of differentiation. Retailers need to know and understand their target consumer, and the store brand should reflect the store-branding philosophy and image of the store.
- Be unique to generate curiosity. Invest in innovation to maintain the leading edge and reinforce brand equity. Refrain from “look-alike” marketing. Doing so will only breed confusion. You must build consumer confidence that your store is better.
- Design and implement attractive store merchandising. Always be aware of the quality perception compared to your competition. Analyze how best to present the products to the consumer and avoid the rubber-stamp approach. You will also want an overall, consistent look that consolidates store brand imaging. (The buying groups do this effectively.) The consumer visualizes a product through merchandising. Then she forms an opinion about value and performance.
- Position your store brand effectively in each product category. Retain your stylistic relationship to the overall private brand program.
- Your brand must reflect the price, quality and value strategy of your store. In other words, market from the position you’re in. There is such a thing as “over doing” it, and it will hurt your credibility with the consumer.
- Renew excitement with each new product you carry. New products deserve attention and fanfare. Retailers own their showroom and the ability to create and stimulate interest. Use advertising, promotions and point-of-purchase displays to create the right attention.
- Monitor your brands constantly. Make sure each brand you carry reflects your own brand identity. Analyze consumer shopping habits and performance. Never become complacent. Make modifications if necessary.