Strengthen Your Brand

Strengthen Your Brand to Increase Traffic and Sales



What would it mean to your business if your customers always thought about your store first whenever they considered buying jewelry? Growth in competition—together with declines in customer loyalty—make always unlikely. However, you can significantly increase the likelihood that customers will think about your store by building a strong brand.

Brand building is not just for big companies like Coca-Cola, Proctor & Gamble, or Cartier. A brand image or brand promise simply refers to creating a strong reputation in the minds of customers that makes them think about shopping at your establishment more often. You can do this regardless of size or product type. Here are some questions about managing your brand

Appraising the Situation

  • Can you state clearly and succinctly the reputation you want to create in the minds of customers?
  • Does this reputation distinguish you from your competition?
  • The last time you made a major merchandise or capital expenditure or personnel decision did you think about how it would affect your brand image??
  • Have you identified specific behaviors you want from your sales associates to help ingrain your brand promise in the minds of customers?
  • Do you regularly measure and evaluate how well you’re strengthening your brand image?
  • Are you finding ways to communicate and reinforce your brand image every day?

Best Practices

Effective brand management requires creativity, discipline,and persistence. Here are some key steps to help you build and manage your brand:

Know thy competition. The strongest brands bring to mind something customers value but cannot easily find elsewhere. Start with a point of differentiation—what you can offer customers that will distinguish you from your competition and you will build your brand on bedrock rather than sand.

Write it down. Avoid imprecision by writing out what your brand promise is and getting feedback from others on how precise they believe it is (and whether it distinguishes you from the competition).

Make sure your employees know. There is an old story about a retailer who asks an employee to wipe down the display case. The employee does so, but with a dirty cloth. Thus, although the employee executes the order, the goal of a clean display is not achieved. Make sure your employees understand the goals you’re seeking—the full brand promise—not just the activities you hope will get you there.

Focus on behavior. Sales associates send both overt and covert messages every time they interact with a customer. You and your sales associates should have in mind a clear list of specific behaviors designed to help communicate your brand image. If part of your promise is a relaxed atmosphere in which to shop, what specific greeting behaviors will create such an atmosphere? If you hear clients say “no, thank you,”your associates’ greetings are probably ineffective.

Filter major decisions through the lens of your brand. One successful Fortune 100 retail company has a vice president of brand whose job is to review major decisions based on whether they will strengthen or hurt the brand image the company wants to communicate. Assuming you don’t have such a position, take that role upon yourself.

Measure and check progress. Measurements should include how well your employees understand the brand promise, how often sales associate behaviors are occurring, and what your customers think. Brands are perceptions, so only your customers can say if you’re successfully achieving the image you aspire to. As your mother most likely explained, there is nothing as important as your reputation. Be clear in defining what you want that reputation to be and then communicate and reinforce your brand message every day.

Martin Shanker is the founder and president of Shanker, Inc., a Manhattan-based international management consulting firm for such companies as Burberry, Cartier, The Estee Lauder Companies, Ralph Lauren and Van Cleef & Arpels. Described as a ‘behaviorist’ by The New York Times, Martin specializes in helping global brands accelerate sales and profit by growing their companies from within. By addressing the tough issues of sales and management teams, and the behavioral dimension of retail relationships, Shanker Inc. offers a unique, multi-dimensional way for companies to achieve success through their own people.  ·  (866)-SHANKER  ·

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