Consumer electronics dealers from Sears to Staples are currently refreshing, refocusing or otherwise burnishing their corporate brands. Here are four golden rules of brand rebuilding that can apply to vendors as well as national, regional and local retailers:
1. Build your brand from the inside out.
Companies often make the mistake of looking to their competitors or to their customers to define their brand. Of course you need to understand your competitive landscape and what motivates your customers — without this information, you stand little chance of building a brand that is differentiated and relevant.
But your brand should be a reflection of your organization: What you do, how you do it and how you think. For example, if your store follows the latest technology trends, you can legitimately claim a position as a “purveyor of innovation.” Similarly, if your store offers regular how-to seminars, you can position your brand around “education.”
2. Find your personality.
Although your positioning (by definition, a single defendable statement that identifies your brand relative to the marketplace) is the keystone of your brand, don't underestimate the importance of personality. In the CE retail space, where it is increasingly difficult to create differentiation, a strong personality can play a critical role in standing out.
A well-defined personality communicates the essence of your organization: its distinct and memorable qualities. Ask yourself: How do customers, vendors, employees and the media describe your organization? For example, is your corporate culture more helpful, laid-back and approachable, or smart, intense and sophisticated?
Different types of consumers are attracted to both personality profiles. For you, the trick is to isolate your organization's key personality traits and communicate them with enough impact to attract the “right” consumers — individuals who will feel a connection with your brand and may grow into regular customers or even brand evangelists over time.
3. Your brand lives in the details.
The strongest brands communicate with consistency at every point of contact with the public. When you're rolling out a new brand campaign, try to make the most of every consumer touch-point: advertising, signage, in-store product reviews, flyers, shopping bags, receipts. For example, even often-overlooked details such as shopping bags provide significant real estate for branded imagery and messaging, while the style and tone of product reviews say a lot about your store's customer service approach and overall vibe.
4. Learn from other industries.
Whether you're a big box or small independent, you can learn from successful retailers in other competitive markets. Major CE specialty chains can look to standout brands for inspiration — for example, to Target for the power of accessible design and to Tiffany's for the value of a distinct brand color.
Similarly, smaller CE dealers can look around their local community for good ideas. Do some research to understand how local players — from boutique hardware stores to mom-and-pop grocery chains — promote their local advantage to customers in your target area(s). For example, smaller chains often host neighborhood events, develop staff recommendation boards and claim a specific area of expertise such as architectural fixtures or organic produce. Look carefully at what successful chains are doing and cherry-pick what works for your retail establishment.