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The retail sector moves at lightning speeds, where rapid changes in consumer appetites and trends can mean even the largest and most established brands fall by the wayside if they fail to keep pace. While many retail businesses focus solely on social media or influencer marketing to engage directly with a younger target audience, they may be missing the point.

Great brand building isn’t solely about content marketing or about trying to remain as agile as possible to meet changing demand. It’s about leveraging in-depth market research and data to develop strong, sustainable, and robust brands driven by effective marketing strategies.

We’re proud to be known as one of the best B2B marketing agencies nationwide, with a proven strategy development methodology. Flintlock’s talented brand marketing experts also apply our innovative ‘sparking’ approach to help business clients in the retail space unpick what they want their brand to mean – and transform that into clear, cohesive messaging.

The Importance of Unique Branding in the Retail Sector

Over the last few years, we’ve seen how the economy and factors like living costs and interest rates impact retailers. Well-publicised case studies such as the collapse of major retail chains like Debenhams and Wilko showcase how fragile branding or slow progression can be fatal, irrespective of the value or size of the retail company.

While the pandemic followed by the cost-of-living crisis undoubtedly expedited these recent events, they’re also nothing new.

A few years before, we had similar conversations with retailers who found they were stuck in a rut with little revenue growth, seeing other businesses transition to online sales and leaving all but the supermarkets floundering.

The secret to longevity is resilience and creating a brand strategy that fosters customer loyalty, engagement, community, and positivity. Rather than thinking of marketing initiatives as instant-win projects to gain immediate sales, brand marketing concentrates on long-term business growth and uses clear brand identity to solve business challenges as they arise.

Analysing trends and changes to behaviour remain important, but a strong brand foundation can make it significantly easier to switch or change course based on demand without losing that brand essence that keeps customers coming back.

Creating a Retail Brand for Tomorrow’s Customer

Modern businesses have to meet the needs of modern customers—which sounds simple but may be anything but. As we’ve all gotten used to online ordering, click-and-collect, having parcels diverted to a conveniently located collection point, or tracking up-to-the-minute delivery times on our mobiles, it becomes tricky for retailers to adjust as fast as they should.

Great brand strategy comes into play at every stage, where a business doesn’t jump on the next bandwagon but goes back to its core principles:

  • Who is the key retail customer?
  • What do they love about the brand?
  • What principles does it stand for?
  • Why would they choose it over any other?

This back-to-basics approach can simplify complex decision-making because brands that exist to serve their customers and invest real time into understanding their priorities establish the highest rates of return business and brand loyalty.

Five Brand Strategy Targets to Create Future-Proof Retail Brands

We know that the myriad avenues available to business marketing departments can muddy the waters, and many are conflicted about how best to invest their budgets.

They might, for instance, try to include email marketing, web development, social media advertising, and public relations in their marketing strategies without conducting sufficient research or using business intelligence to identify the creative solutions that will deliver the best results.

Our advice for retail organisations and for any other businesses worried about longevity and staying power is to refresh their brand strategy, communications, and ethos and drill into those intangibles that make their brands worth buying from.

1. Turn Colleagues and Partners Into Brand Advocates

Every team member, whether a check-out colleague, a delivery driver, or a customer service representative answering emails, represents your brand. They can also be an incredibly valuable asset, bringing your brand to your customer’s front door and embodying the values and service you want to be known for.

Friendly, welcoming teams, a sense of community and inclusion, and creating workplace environments where staff feel nurtured, respected, and encouraged can directly contribute to business sustainability.

2. Develop Retail Interactions That Resonate

The customer experience is everything. Buyers who find it easy to get in touch, ask a question or explore new ranges curated to match their buying history are more likely to make a purchase or feel confident enough to try your brand for the first time.

Content creation is key. Your communications, promotions, and advertising should be relevant to the consumer and use brand assets and colour palettes that are appealing and synonymous with the perception your target audience has of your brand.

3. Focus on Customer Loyalty

Most of us choose the same brands repeatedly, whether we’re buying home goods, foods, clothes, supplements or beauty products. Retail brands are introducing better customisation by enabling customers to set up repeat subscriptions to ensure they never run out or using account settings that log their favourites to make finding what they’re looking for faster.

Brands like Pets At Home and Holland and Barrett have done this well, capitalising on customer brand loyalty and removing any need to think about which product they choose because this is already done for them.

4. Concentrate on Localisation and Seasonality

Today’s consumers are more invested in sustainability, environmental credentials, and concerns over globalisation than ever before. Whether it’s ‘buy local’ campaigns or ‘farm to fork’ supply chains, customers place greater emphasis on values, ethics, and positioning on causes.

Marketplaces that sell owner-made brands and independently produced goods alongside their own are often considered go-to places since customers want to support smaller businesses without sacrificing convenience.

5. Offer Retail Sales Directly to Your Consumer

Finally, it’s worth thinking about how your products reach your customers. Many have opted for a direct delivery process to cut out middlemen such as department stores, supermarkets, and courier services and ensure customers can access what they want right from the source.

While this model isn’t as accessible to larger retailers with long-established distribution networks, it is a position that appeals to countless customers who want to buy from the brand they love and nowhere else.

We hope these five ideas prompt discussions in your business about how to align your brand with your

customer base and inspire you to protect your retail brand for an unpredictable future.

If you’d like to learn more about creating a resilient, future-proof brand strategy, please get in touch with Flintlock Marketing. You can contact us directly or submit a brief to initiate a discussion about your current brand position, where you’d like to be, and the strategic marketing steps to get there.