ALEXANDRIA, Va.—Why is branding so important to retailers? Because it speaks to customers and employees alike about what’s important to the retailer. “There’s the reason [some retailers] haven’t predefined the personality and image of their brand,” said Ernie Harker, brand ignitor at Ernburn Branding, on this week’s episode of Convenience Matters, “Matching Your Brand to Your Target Audience.”
“Brands have to curate the verbal and visual language around what makes them special, … but if they don’t know who they are, then retailers start doing gimmicky things to create attention or sales or promotions,” Harker said.
Harker emphasized that it’s not simply knowing who you are—it’s also knowing who your customers are. “What do you want your customer to feel the second they walk into your store? What adventure do you want them to go on? Where do you want them to look? How do you want them to experience your space and what you offer and your service?” he asked. To answer those questions a retailer needs to know who they are and who their customers are.
Using the sample of Cheetos and its mascot, Chester the Cheetah, Harker pointed out how a brand consistently used personality to celebrate its product. “Chester the Cheetah will never have an affair, will never beat somebody up. It’s an iconic person that the brand completely controls that is instantly recognizable, lovable, interesting, and fun,” he said. “Those are the character attributes of Chester, and the cheetah reflects the personality of the Cheetos product.”
To Harker, the most important elements of branding include discovering your brand spark, identifying your target customer, figuring out why you do what you do, and then establishing your brand adjectives. “What five or six adjectives would you use to describe your company, two of which can’t be used to describe any other competitor?” he asked. “Once you have those four building blocks, you can then go about curating the visual and verbal language to represent it.”
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