Branding is tough! It’s so much more than the logo and graphics, but people don’t always see that. Your brand is how people experience your store - online, in the store, interacting with your shoppers, etc. So how do you have a rock solid brand? We think you’re well on your way if you can master these 8 areas.
1. LOOK WITHIN
Once you have worked through to identify your core values and your customers understand who you are and what you do, you can begin to build your brand. You are ready to externalize the awesome-ness that is your store’s brand.
2. CUSTOMERS LOVE YOU!
The more excited and happier your customers are, the more time they want to spend promoting and shopping at your store. And the happier they are, the more they will naturally and purposefully project the store’s brand. That’s part of why having great core values is so critical - you need ambassadors for your store and who better than your customers who understand and believe in your values?
2. DON’T JUST BE COOL
You need to have a fantastic visual identity, not just a logo and some Shutterstock images. Branding really is so much more than that. Look for or create images that truly represent who you are. I often see trends come up with startups - the ‘rustic’ or ‘vintage’ theme with some distressed letters and simple but funky veggies. All very cool but I promise, it won’t necessarily be as relevant in 5 years.
3. FIND AND SPEAK TO YOUR DEMOGRAPHIC
It’s hard to really dig in and find who your demographic is. Your market study will touch on it and your current current shoppers will probably represent a good majority of it. But knowing who they are and knowing how to reach them are very different ideas. If you want to be hip and trendy in a suburban, middle class neighborhood you may not be as successful as you’d like. Before you commit to your brand identity, take time to really find out who these people are and what is the most effective way to reach them.
4. BE BOLD!
The natural foods industry is not a culture known for taking risks. We like to save for the future, we worry about every single customer and we don’t want to offend anyone. But taking risks and being bold is sometimes the best strategy for making an impact and being the leader in your community. Just remember; you do NOT have to be exclusive, please everyone nor do you have to compromise your core values because you’re worried about what some people will think. Another reason why knowing and living those values is so important!
5. PLEASE, BE CONSISTENT!
As a marketing expert, I’m constantly analyzing store’s brands and marketing strategies. And one thing that I consistently see is inconsistency - either in signage, images, theme or style. It’s tough with owners running the website, social media platforms and printing flyers. But you need to have standards and brand guidelines for them to follow if you want current and potential customers to recognize you in the sea of current and future competition. Don’t wait until Whole Foods moves in to be the first choice for groceries - be consistent now and be consistent in the future.
6. A MOMENT IN TIME
People, by nature, latch on to the latest and greatest trends. Kombucha, anyone? By knowing what is trendy and what is steadfast will not only help your business now but it will prove to your membership that you know your stuff! So please, while I know gluten free kale chips with siracha and sea salt SEEMS like a good idea, do your research and taste them before you advertise the 2 for 1 sale.
7. DON’T LIVE ON THE EDGE
You want to be set apart from the competition, that’s the unspoken truth. But you don’t have to have a single, game changing idea to do that. Don’t gravitate to an idea just because it’s new and cutting edge. You will probably just alienate your customers and as a result find yourself in the ‘unreliable’ category when your competition gets the one up. You can identify yourself as the best choice without giving your brand ‘edge’.
8. KNOW YOURSELF
Logos, images, font and colors can change over time - but your identity is more or less consistent. If you can identify who your store is then you can focus on that. Once you can really laser focus on your brand, come next year you’ll be a rock star! People will be used to your message and your consistent identity will shone through as they load their shopping carts with local, organic products.