Say It, and They Will Come (Back)

The right brand messaging creates a connection for your customers and keeps them coming back for more.

October 14, 2022

By Sara Counihan

ALEXANDRIA, Va.—Convenience stores offer their customers myriad brands, but what about the most important brand—the store’s brand?

In-store communications influence a customer’s behavior, deliver brand messaging and make someone a brand loyal customer, according to Rick Sales, president of Abierto Networks, a digital and engagement solutions company. Joining a c-store’s loyalty program requires brand engagement and commitment from the customer, and there are many people in the forecourt who are not in the loyalty program, says Sales.

“I would argue that this brand messaging, in addition to helping people to come into the store, is also going to help them to connect with your brand, to build loyalty with your brand and revisit,” said Sales on this week’s NACS Convenience Matters podcast episode.

Eric Sales, creative director, Abierto Networks, says that there are three key points retailers should focus on when crafting a brand’s message. The first is that the messaging has to be authentic.

“Every chain is going to have a two-for-$2 or a 99-cent coffee,” said Eric. “You need to speak to that customer and show them that you’re actually designing the experience for them.

The second point is that retailers should make their messaging locally relevant.

“We have a customer that is running cortadito coffee ads down in Miami, which is a Cuban specialty coffee that is wildly popular in the area,” he said. “That’s a great locally relevant message that they’re offering this product.”

Thirdly, retailers need to make their messaging easy to comprehend, internalize and engage with.

“If you want this imprinted message that when I wake up in the morning, and I’m getting in the car, and I think, man, I really need a coffee. The first place that I think of is your brand,” said Eric, adding that messaging needs to be short, targeted and engaging—fewer than 10 words. If it’s a video or animation, it should be less than seven seconds.

Rick added that in addition to these three points, repetition matters. He believes it takes at least three times of somebody seeing or hearing a message for it to stick. Digital signage, which Abierto specializes in, contributes to that repetition and brand experience, according to Rick.

“If the message is crafted correctly, the platforms are designed for repetition because … the consumer is there for a short period of time, but it’s not there only once,” said Rick.

Rick also pointed out that people have expectations of how a brand communicates with them and how retailers convey the brand, and smartphones drive that expectation.

“When you fail to communicate in a way that they expect you, I believe you disappoint them as much as when you come into the bathroom, and the bathroom is dirty,” he said. “For [retailers] to be able to execute on the signage after [they’ve] created a great message, [retailers] need to have the proper toolkit.”

That toolkit, according to Rick, includes the right hardware and the right software, along with the right services that support this toolkit.

“When we work with our clients, we come to them as an industry expert and a technology partner to augment the toolkit and keep it current,” Rick said.

Listen to this NACS Convenience Matters podcast episode No. 357 “Brand Messaging Drives Customer Engagement” to hear more from Abierto and how they are helping their clients provide the ultimate customer experience that every retailer is looking to deliver.

Sara Counihan is contributing editor of NACS Magazine and NACS Daily. She can be reached at