9 July 2020

The importance of branding in retail

By Joe Durbridge

Some shopping centre names carry national fame while others are more known within the region, however something all shopping centres have in common is that it’s harder to recall the branding and develop an emotional attachment.

The power of brand interactions should never be underestimated, no matter what the product. The brand creates an identity, a uniqueness and a personality that people can have an emotional connection with, and it’s this connection that we all subliminally reference when making purchasing decisions. So, when there is a choice of two similar retail offerings, the retailer with the best emotional connection will be become the preference.

The godfather of modern marketing, Seth Godin, once said that if Nike was to open a hotel, you would have a pretty good idea of what that hotel would be like. This is true because of the strength of Nike’s brand. When you take a commodity and add a brand, it’s no longer like everything else in its sector. A shopping centre, likewise, is a commodity until you add a brand. Then there is a point of difference and a unique story that people can connect with. We work hard with our clients, to ensure that the brand DNA is thoughtfully injected into every customer touchpoint, from advertising campaigns, to the onsite welcome desk.

One recent example of this was with Bromma Blocks, an established shopping centre near Stockholm. We looked at the heritage of the site, which was aircraft hangers for Stockholm’s first international airport, and utilised this unique history into the new brand DNA. We were able to get under the skin of the scheme and a new proposition was born “Bromma Blocks everything you need, for wherever life takes you.” This was rolled out along with the new brand identity which playfully uses arrival boards and airport phrases to energise the brand.

Branding can come naturally for some products or services but with a shopping centre for example, it can prove more difficult.  The key is to establish a well-told story that answers the consumers question of ‘why should I visit you?’, with an intriguing, convincing and honest explanation. This story becomes the brand’s DNA and should be experienced at every possible customer touchpoint. From the radio ad that first makes the consumer aware of the centre, through to the navigation signage on site, the brand story and personality should be ever-present.

Author and brand consultant Fabien Geyrhalter, discusses how people will always be drawn to brands. That people find comfort in associating themselves with a brand image and like to share it, attracting like-minded people. Strong brands therefore have the power to create advocacy and have the customers market for them, as a tribe builds around them. Every year Interbrand publishes rankings of the most valuable brands. A value calculated by brand earnings ($) x brand impact (% of earnings created by strength of brand) x brand multiple (risk assessment of likelihood brand will retain value in years ahead). So, if your CFO needs convincing on branding investment, this can be a useful insight.

At this point you’re hopefully convinced of the power of branding but maybe wondering how to establish a strong brand. It’s not easy and it takes time. At BWP we always start by going back to the roots of the company, as we find that usually the determination that fuelled the launch has a unique story already within it. Stories about a brand are a powerful way to align consumers around its message and transform a commodity product (such as a shopping centre) into a meaningful brand. The story becomes a strong brand platform, which helps to promote emotional connection, which in turn, can help drive preference, we often find something useful in the original launch story. We then look to add an aura of attraction, achieved through thoughtful design and tone of voice. Finally, we work closely with our clients to ensure the brand’s usability is high-quality, making it easy and enjoyable to engage, use and experience the product.

Tell us your story and we can help you craft a strong brand.

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