Brand integration within the customer retail experience

Fewer logos – but more brand.

With brands working harder than ever to engage with consumers at home and on the go, success depends on their bricks and mortar stores reinforcing the brand message and living up to consumers’ expectations. The key? Strategic brand integration.

Integrating your brand into a physical space is an opportunity to create an immersive experience for consumers, to reinforce your brand message and deliver on its promise. To do it effectively requires an understanding of what the brand represents, physically and emotionally and, therefore, what customers expect of it.

“Brand is a promise; the big idea and the expectations that reside in each customer’s mind about a product, service or company,” says BRANDPARTNERS Creative Director, Chris Norris. “A superior brand is a sum of all its parts: products, services, philosophy, name, story, employees, customer value and visual identity. It is an integration of multiple components and a means of differentiating a company’s products and services from its competitors, with the end goal of connecting with people.”

Consistency is crucial to cut-through in today’s cluttered world: as a message becomes familiar the subconscious recognises it more easily and requires less energy to understand the proposition. A retail environment should therefore reflect and amplify a brand, and requires more than simply scattering your logo around. “What is more important is closing the deal with the customer, so deliver on your brand promise.”

Consider how a multi-sensory retail approach could reflect your brand values. Use of colour (including and complementary to your brand palette for familiarity), style of furniture, quality of product and the way in which it is presented, how interaction takes place with sales staff or in-store experts, music and even scent all help build the physical manifestation of a brand.

A living wall of plants reinforces the ‘green-ness’ of an eco-friendly brand, brightly coloured portable furniture like ottomans is ideal for an exuberant youth brand, while formal furniture in earthy tones and polished wooden cabinetry speaks to a premium lifestyle brand. “If your brand’s proposition is ‘best price’ then your retail racking should reflect that, perhaps in a warehouse style setting, whereas high quality consumer products should be presented with generous space and in more of a home/lifestyle setting.”

Brand integration isn’t just for customer-facing areas, either. ASB recently asked BRANDPARTNERS to create a bike station for their GenY staff team. Bikes and helmets were housed in a custom-made cabinet at ASB’s Wynyard Quarter Head Office in downtown Auckland. With the cabinet, bikes and helmets in matte black, discreet use of ASB’s yellow and the company’s GenY logo kept it on brand. “The idea was for staff to go for a ride around the city during their lunch break or up to a local branch,” explains BRANDPARTNERS Account Manager Stefan Merlo. “We kept the design minimal and tasteful, but it was still recognisably ASB.”

BRANDPARTNERS also redesigned the administrative areas at Pak’nSave’s Albany Store. BRANDPARTNERS Account Manager Rochelle King says while the Pak’nSave staff culture is strong, there was a disconnect between the retail areas and the office, which was grey with different coloured chairs and tables. “We’ve brought the brand into the admin side without it screaming Pak’nSave everywhere. The board room table looks like a shipping pallet but is actually a functional table, the wall elements are [Pak’nSave] black and yellow, with products sitting on the same shelves you’ll see in-store and Stickman pops up occasionally too. Although this time the humorous Stickman comments are focused towards the business rather than the customer, because that suits this audience.”

Black tables and chairs have been introduced to the HR area, too, along with a wall unit with yellow panels in the store shelving style. “It’s functional and looks like Pak’nSave, but doesn’t scream it [with a logo],” explains King. “Now you have that same feeling in the admin side as you do when you’re in-store – it just connects all the pieces.”

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