Tuesday, July 9, 2013

The Importance of Retail

Look around your home or office.

What about this location makes you feel comfortable there? What makes you feel uncomfortable? These environments are second nature in how they affect us in our daily lives, however, a good brand should never forget how much of an impression their environment has to make on consumers.

The importance of retail merchandising to your brand should never be underestimated. It's one of the first impressions you'll get to make on a potential consumer and, often, it's one of the most lasting.

Does the retail reflect the brand? 

Just because it's an environmental part of your brand doesn't mean that it shouldn't fit with existing brand materials.

One of the best examples to consider is an Apple Store:

The setting is futuristic looking, sharp, clean, bright and crisp. All of those attributes fit into what Apple wants people to think their products are. Now, check out a Microsoft store: 

What this looks to say about its brand is that it doesn't know what it wants to say so it modeled itself after a successful brand's retail. This isn't Microsoft/Apple politics, this is an example of a brand not knowing how to inject its brand attributes into its retail. Once you've lost focus of your brand, you've lost your chance at successful retail. 

Here's an exterior shot of a branch for Educational Systems Federal Credit Union. The image on the outside is an illustration of their brand. They support education and you see that before you even walk through the doors. 

Is it welcoming? 

Is there a comfortable place for customers to sit? 

Any place for someone to grab a beverage while they wait? 

Remember what we first talked about: What kind of environment is your home? If your consumers feel like they're at home when they're interacting with your brand, it'll be that much stronger. 

Keep it pervasive, but not overbearing 

Your brand should be everywhere in plain sight. You want your consumers to be aware of where they are, but not like they're being smothered by your brand. 

Something as simple as office name plates can keep the brand strong in a subtle way: 

Keeping brand colors consistent across your retail will help consumers become familiar with your brand without alienating them from it: 

Creating an effective visual environment across your retail can seem like a daunting task, but it doesn't have to be complicated. The main thing to not lose focus of is, simply, your brand. As long as you have a good idea of what you're trying to say with your brand and don't overthink things, you can make your consumers feel right at home when they're in your branch, store or office.