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Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Does your Brand Identity need an Extreme Makeover?

Life is full of surprises.  My husband recently...and somewhat unexpectedly....wound up in the office furniture business.  The existing business has seen better days and my husband is a "turn around guy," so it could be a good fit.  One of the challenges facing him is to establish a brand identity that sets the business apart from the multitude of similar companies in the area.

True Confession:  Office Furniture isn't sexy.  Nope....I do not get excited by office furniture.  No disrespect intended to those whose fantasies include a solid mahogany work station---I am simply not an office furniture me, office furniture is kind of invisible.    A cherry veneer desk is a commodity item that can just as easily be purchased from Office Furniture Depot as Business Furniture Warehouse.  Nonetheless, when my husband asked me to jump start the marketing program, I was intrigued by the challenge and have found myself spending  time in an unfamiliar world.
  Funny thing I walked the floor of the business it was easy to identify some of the problems.  The space is well stocked, spacious, and clean.  However, it is sterile and without personality.  Ho Hum.  I see craft stores like that all of the time!    Take a look around your shop.  What do you see?  Clean, well stocked, and easy to navigate fall far short of establishing a BRAND IDENTITY.

 What makes your store stand out from the competition?

Branding is about emotion---a successful brand identity will make people feel warm and fuzzy when they think about you.  It will make them get in the car and drive to  your store to make a purchase that could easily be made from an on-line competitor.  It will make them stop by when they are "in the neighborhood" just to see what you have going on in the shop.  It will make them recommend your store to friends and family. It will keep your cash register humming along!

 The branding process is multi-faceted.  It has to do with the clothes you wear, the product you sell, the look and tone of your store.   You are in a creative industry.  Your store should be "artsy."  A plethora of slat wall and beads hanging like little soldiers leave a bit to be desired.  Ratchet it up a notch!    Artful displays provide visual interest and creative inspiration.   Your windows provide a wonderful opportunity to showcase your brand.  No time to focus?   Put the word out that you are looking for display help.  Many colleges offer classes in retail merchandising....ask a professor to have the class adopt your window as a project. Alternatively, team up with a new charity each month and change the window display to showcase every charity.  Raise money for a cause and engage your customer base at the same time.  Don't forget to notify the press!

Craft store owners are not just in the creative industry, they are also in the fashion industry.  Bead store owners should show up at work wearing statement jewelry and dressed to sell.  Yarn store owners should be wearing killer knits.  You are the dream makers and you need to play the role!  Your job is to create an aura that people will want to emulate.   Incorporate that tone into every email you send and every event that you host.

Some businesses use "tag lines" on their websites, business cards, and letterhead to reinforce the brand identity.  Poco Creations and Beads in Winnipeg has a short but effective line:  "Poco...where every bead is a gem!"  It is cute and it is memorable.  Other businesses focus on a visual logo to further their brand identity.  Geico might have a little green lizard, but Alaska Bead Company has a cute little bead lovin' polar bear.

Retail success in 2010 is about establishing your brand identity and engaging with your community...whether you are selling craft supplies or office furniture!  Now if you will excuse me, I have some office furniture to rearrange............

In other news:

how 'bout a sparkly challenge to jump start your creativity?

I am looking for challenge participants from various backgrounds (beaders, quilters, stampers, scrapbookers, etc).  who want to play with some incredible Swarovski cupchain!  This special order product is a real treat.

          Show us what you can do with this spectacular sparkle!
Sew it, Glue it, Solder it, Alter whatever you want, just 

We are looking for some crafty souls who are willing to think outside the box and meet an April 1 "picture of finished product" delivery deadline.   You will also be asked to take pictures of your work in progress along the way and offer a brief explanation as to technique.  Each participant will receive a selection of  the product pictured above as well as a thank you gift from Aussie Threads and Fibers.  Please send me an email with contact information if you would like to participate in the March Challenge.

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