From Shirts to Signs: Creating a Brand
Success at Your Store
By Tim Connolly
Last month we discussed a few simple design strategies for making your
business customer friendly. For July, we’ll cover a few essentials for making
your store a memorable brand unto itself. Make my 1,500 square feet a “brand,”
you say? Isn’t that the domain of big mall chains that can afford Madison
Consider the age we live in: thousands of new products hit store shelves
every day, retail chains come and go like dinosaurs in the late Jurassic
and hundreds of cable and satellite channels (not to mention the Web)
bombard us with thousands of product messages every day. In an era when
consumers are drowning in a sea of choices, it’s more important than ever
to give your business an identity customers can seek out as shelter from
the storm. Branding creates a sense of familiarity, which in turn creates
Scott Bedbury, the man who created the famous "Just do it"
campaign for Nike and made Starbucks into a brand as universally recognized
as McDonalds, had this to say in a recent interview with "Business
"I realized that we had an opportunity to influence everything that
happened once the consumer walked in [to a store]. I thought ... making
Starbucks a unique and pleasant experience was going to be more effective
than a big ad campaign."
A Brand is a Promise: When was the last time you saw a car commercial
that actually talked about the engine? A successful brand tells a story,
then delivers what it promises. Find what's unique about your business's
character and let it appeal to people's emotions.
Telephone: Try adding a unique greeting to fit the theme
of your store. If you specialize in science and nature toys, you could
add some wildlife sounds to your voice mail greeting, or maybe Neil Armstrong’s
“One small step for man…” Apollo message.
Employee Dress: Short of making your employees wear
animal or circus costumes, this is a relatively painless way for stores
to create brand identity. White lab coats for science toys, safari shirts
for nature-themed stores, carpenter’s pants for wooden toys, or just something
with your store’s logo displayed prominently can all work to make your
store stand out in a customer’s overcrowded retail landscape.
Signage: Why settle for “Musical Toys” when you can
have “Young Mozart’s Playground”? Signs both within and outside your store
are a potent way to create brand. You can stick with one unique typeface
or change each sign according to its reference, i.e., calligraphy for
the above musical toys section, computer script for a science toys section...
Don’t be afraid to use humor. This is a kids’ store after all.
Color: If your store has plain white walls, ask yourself
why. If you don’t have a good answer (other than being too lazy to paint),
chances are your space would benefit from a splash of color. Whether a
different hue to enhance each section of the store or one unique shade
to call your own (on business cards, invoices and store bags as well),
the right colors will help engage your customers and make them feel welcome.