We know that branding is important, especially in the modern retail world. With the growing saturation of retailers in the industry, businesses are relying on branding more than ever – how it sets them apart and how it shapes the customer experience, both in-store and online.
Contrary to popular belief, it’s much more than just your logo. Branding shapes your identity as a business and how you want to be perceived by your customers. It takes your foundational values as a business and transforms them into a visual and verbal identity to share with consumers. And it informs how you communicate, from the way you answer the phone to how you promote your products.
Simply put, branding is a strategy, and it takes a lot of thought and effort. We’ve made it easy for you by outlining 10 steps that walk you through discovering, designing, and developing a successful brand and brand voice. And it starts with knowing who you are as a retailer.
1. Identify your mission, vision, and values.
Let’s start with the basics. When creating a brand for your retail store, you need to develop a verbal identity. Begin with these foundational questions:
Why does your business exist?
This may seem like an easy question, but it’s often hard for business owners to articulate, especially if you don’t already have a mission statement written. And if you can’t articulate why you do what you do, it will probably be difficult to convince your customers to pay attention. Having the answer in writing helps create both clarity in your communication and a sense of unity and purpose for your brand.
Warby Parker Mission: To offer designer eyewear at a revolutionary price, while leading the way for socially conscious businesses.
This is a successful mission statement because it communicates the product they offer and how they set themselves apart from their competition (price and social cause).
What vision is your business working towards?
Your vision as a business is a powerful tool. It’s a forward-thinking statement that can help empower and guide organizational decisions, and it also helps strengthen your mission statement.
Petsmart Vision: We love pets and we believe pets make us better people. PetSmart will be the trusted partner to pet parents and pets in every moment of their lives.
This is a successful vision statement because it communicates their goal to be perceived as “the trusted partner to pet parents and pets” and their passion for what they do. It’s both inspiring and determined, and it clearly communicates why they exist as a business and what they aim to become.
What values and principles are your business built on?
While your brand may change its look and feel over time, your values should always remain consistent. Established core values and principles are very important because they build trust in your brand, and they also inform your day-to-day activities, from how you treat your customers to how you engage in business.
IKEA Values: Togetherness, Caring for people and the planet, Cost-consciousness, Simplicity, Renew and improve, Different with a meaning, Give and take responsibility, Lead by example
These are successful values because they actually implement these characteristics across their business model. There is a level of trust in the IKEA brand because they pride themselves on all of these values, and these positive attributes are displayed in their communication efforts, customer service interactions, and product offerings.
Knowing your mission, vision, and values identifies every aspect of your business and helps create consistency in your brand voice. If what you’re doing doesn’t line up with these three things, you should probably reconsider it.
- What benefit do your products/services offer?
- Where do you see your business in a year? 5 years? 10 years?
- What values are important to your business model?
2. Identify your target audience.
Once you know who you are as a retail store, it’s time to research your target market. If you’re an existing retailer, who is your current customer? If you’re a new retailer or looking to re-target your audience, who is your ideal customer? How is this different from your existing customer base? Knowing your ideal customer’s wants and needs helps you determine how to market your products and determine exactly what your customers value. You can then work your brand messaging around meeting these wants & needs and delivering information in a way that makes the most sense to your customers.
- Who are you trying to reach?
- Who is your competition?
3. Create a positioning statement.
Your positioning statement determines how you set yourself apart among your competitors and the benefit you provide to your customers. How should your products or services appear? Good quality or good value? Affordable or luxury? Modern or traditional? Your positioning statement essentially communicates your competitive advantage. You can learn more about how to identify your competitive advantage by reading our article here:
Target’s Positioning Statement: Style on a budget.
This is an effective positioning statement because it clearly communicates how they differentiate themselves among their competitors. It’s common knowledge that Target offers stylish products at an affordable cost. And as a customer, you can “expect more, pay less”.
- Why do customers buy from you instead of your competition?
- What benefit do you provide that makes you different and better?
4. Describe your brand’s personality.
If your brand was a person, what would they be like? Not only does this question associate a human quality to your brand, it also helps summarize the overall perception you want customers to have of your store. Would they be informative, trustworthy, and professional? Or would they be humorous, relatable, and conversational? Once you have some characteristics listed, write down some expressions of each personality trait. For example, if you want your brand to be seen as upbeat, how would that show up in communication? You would want to use expressive verbs, an active voice, and colorful illustrations or examples.
- What words do you want people to associate with your brand?
- If your brand was a person, what would they be like?
5. Create your logo and branded materials.
Now it’s time to get creative. Developing a visual identity helps bring your brand to life and attaches a graphic association to your business. From your colors and fonts to your business cards and graphics, your brand should be recognizable and consistent among all of your designs. How do you know if you have a good logo design? If your logo were to show up without your name, would someone know who you were? If your logo is easily recognizable, you’re on the right track.
6. Create brand guidelines.
Once you’ve identified your brand voice, you need to create some guidelines for your content creators and ensure they know what success looks like. Give examples of good content and bad content, and how it can be revised to make it a win. Make sure every employee in your business has access to these guidelines. A consistent brand image and voice is necessary because it demonstrates your ability as a trusted expert.
- Describe your sales/communication process. How do people hear about you, when/how do you contact them, etc.?
- How do you want your customers to feel each time they interact with your business?
7. Develop a story narrative.
Storytelling is a powerful and effective way to connect your audience with your brand. Think about the one thing you wish to communicate with your customers. Maybe it’s the history of how your business started or the inspiration behind your brand name. Find ways to weave that big-picture vision into your communication. Call-to-actions are much more engaging when there’s a story leading up to it, and your audience is more likely to engage in content that is inspiring rather than simply informative.
- What is the primary message/story you want to convey about your brand?
8. Create consistency.
So you’ve created a visual and verbal identity. Now it’s time to develop a consistent message to reach your customers. This is a chance to take your story narrative, your brand voice, and your logo and showcase them all together. It’s also extremely important for omnichannel retailers, as you want to ensure your customer has the same kind of experience across all of your channels, from your website to your print media to your customer service. Be sure to follow your brand guidelines to ensure your voice and message remain consistent across all channels. This also means creating a normal scheduling routine for social media. You can check out our article on Social Media Strategy for more in-depth strategy: Link to Social Media Strategy
- List out all of your communication channels. How are you communicating with your customer on each platform? Do they all work together?
- What is your schedule for social media posts?
9. Engage your audience.
Every time you write a caption or reply to a direct message or review, you’re engaging your brand voice. And when you facilitate connection and conversation with your audience, you’re influencing their level of brand awareness and perception. Conduct surveys and ask for feedback to gain more insight on your customer experience. Your content should also include call-to-actions to encourage the purchase of your product or the desire to learn more information about your company.
10. Measure your success.
It’s great to have a solid brand, but ultimately you want to see some return on your branding investment. You can monitor the success of your brand many different ways, but we think these are helpful metrics to track:
- Monitoring consumer behaviors (reach, impressions, followers, website stats)
- Monitoring performance (conversion rates, purchases, referrals, customer satisfaction)
- Monitoring financial data (revenue, profit, brand valuation, market share)
Once you have these measurements, you can adjust and refine your branding strategy to meet your goals.
With the right planning and resources, branding can be a huge game changer for your business. We truly believe these 10 steps will help facilitate a successful branding strategy and help you identify who you are, what you have to offer, and how to share this with your customers.