Retailing 143: Your Store Is The Brand!
By Jay Townley
As I look over the retail landscape, I am struck by the difference between specialty retailers who think complaining is a strategy, and the new-wave and outlier specialty retailers who are creating uncontested local market space.
The first group complains that if only their suppliers and the major brands would support them, things would go back to the way they were, and they would be able to compete with the pure-play online retailers. The second group understands that things will not go back to the way they were. They know their specialty retail store is the brand in their neighborhood and community, and as such they can not only compete with the pure-play online retailer, they can make these competitors irrelevant.
“If you are in business, you already have a brand,” writes T. Scott Gross in his book “Micro Branding: Build Powerful Personal Brand & Best Your Competition.” We highly recommend this book to independent specialty tennis retailers to help develop their stores as the brand in their local markets. These key points are paraphrased from “Micro Branding”:
- You don’t need a nationally recognized brand to compete successfully.
- Your store brand is, in many ways, more powerful than a national brand.
- You don’t need leading-edge technology or a national reputation to create loyal, profitable clients.
- Building your store brand costs less than you now spend to be mediocre.
- Building your store brand is easily accomplished on your budget.
It’s About Consistency
So, how does a tennis retailer make their store the “brand” in their local market? Let’s start with consistency, which is a part of building your store brand with the budget you already have. Remember that your store brand is not what you think or say it is — it’s what your customers and the people in your community think and perceive your brand to be.
Once you’ve decided on your store name and logo, you need to stick with it consistently. Don’t deviate from the design or color across all the places and ways you use your logo. It helps if you settle on a name and logo that the majority of your customers like and can relate to — but once you have a store ID that works, be consistent.
For the same money you spend on a disjointed brand presentation — to be mediocre — you can mount a coordinated store brand campaign that presents a uniform, consistent and recognizable image on everything your customers see and touch.
Consistency also extends to how you and your staff deliver an outstanding retail shopping experience. The thing to remember is your customers don’t form one impression or image of your store brand, even if it is bad (the exception is if the experience is horrible). What the research shows is your customers form your store’s brand image in their conscience over time and based on numerous contacts and inputs — and consistently good to great retail shopping experiences accumulate to form one generally favorable brand image.
Leading-edge technology is great when you can afford it, but your local store brand doesn’t need leading-edge technology to create loyal, profitable customers. You can create customers for life by consistently delivering outstanding and memorable tennis lifestyle shopping experiences.
What about brand-name products? If you don’t need nationally recognized brands to compete successfully, what do you sell? The answer: The brands that you determine will support your retail store brand and are interested in you making a fair and equitable profit.
Your tennis customers have access to huge amounts of objective information about everything in the tennis world and you can use this information to assist you in selecting the brands and products that will support your specialty retail business and help build your retail brand.
This is how your store brand becomes more powerful than any national brand in your neighborhood and community.
Jay Townley is a partner in the retail consulting firm Gluskin Townley Group (gluskintownleygroup.com).
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