- Word of mouth recommendations are still relevant
Developing a strong brand is as important as ever this year. Talitha Lofthus is Marketing Manager at RetailNext and she recommends word of mouth marketing as still being the most essential element in promoting any company. Hearing great things about a business from people you know is very powerful and that hasn’t changed with the digital revolution. The significance that comes from a great personal reference has transferred naturally onto a wide variety of social media platforms. Simple customer reviews carry a lot of weight and these are joined by the emergence of influencers and brand advocates who can help any venture build more awareness. (1)
Not everybody agrees that social media and online communication is vital to generating a dynamic name and massive following. Interior Designer Martin Brudnizki of Martin Brudnizki Interior Design has focused on letting the work speak for itself with its timeless beauty and high quality. The organic publicity that follows receiving multiple design awards has also contributed to his firm’s stand out success.
Speaking at the UK retail industry’s Spring Fair recently, Brudnizki explained how the studio process is key to achieving his aims. Martin maintains an emphasis on how “each project is individual” whilst also leading his design teams cosmopolitan signature style, through an academic approach and taking inspiration from old and historical books. (2)
2. Creating a community is cool
When it comes to branding the idea of forming a community is integral to creating a strong impression. Human beings like to be part of a group or pack and they will support organisations to whom their admired contacts show loyalty. Paulin Karpis at Forbes magazine suggests that “people are craving community now more than ever.” Engaging followers to share content and spread good news about a business’s latest collections takes creativity. The engagement can involve sharing activities, extra information, merchandise and competitions for example. Karpis suggests that companies need to go further than simply just selling a product or a service and they need to “provide support and (add) value for members.” (4) “Create a community and let them run it” declares Bob Novogratz of US based design team The Novogratz.
3. Keep a sense of humour and enjoy your life
Novogratz also enthuses how customer service and “a sense of humour” is essential when running a retail business. This is particularly true when managing returns and complaints which are an inevitable part of any organisation that sells physical objects. (4)
Bryony Sheridan a senior Buyer at Liberty reveals that a sense of humour can also be crucial to the success of an up and coming brand. Humour can be a Unique Selling Point (USP) that sets an artist or maker apart from the rest. In an interview at Spring Fair last month Bryony tells Fiona McCarthy, Freelance Writer & Contributing Editor at Vogue Living how “identifying things that are different and special” is a focus for her work. Ms. Sheridan explains how conveying a “playful art and youthfulness” are covetable attributes that positively add to an artisan’s image. “Take it (work) up a notch and keep it fun” is her expert advice when it comes to growing a small business.(5) (6)
4. Instagram is the new shop window and influencers are the new sales assistants
“Being innovative, new and good” on social media can help make your “products amazing” remarks Bryony Sheridan who chooses the brightest and the best for her wonderful range of home interiors at the famous Liberty department store in London. Video posts and using hashtags to signpost followers to your latest products has become part of the way that we all purchase everyday and special occasion items and services now. (6)
Traditionally all established stores will invest significant amounts of time on training for their selling teams, as they understand the value of ‘knowing everything there is to know’ about a particular range or commercial department. Bryony Sheridan shares how important traditional sales assistants are in bricks and mortar stores like Liberty. She points out that brilliant product knowledge can be key to giving confidence to customers to purchase luxury items for their home. Knowing how and where the pieces are made it vital to the modern consumer. Heritage and sustainable manufacturing mean a lot to the public, who have had time during the lockdowns to reassess their priorities and what they want from their homes.
The ‘micro influencer’ is important to increasing demand for most online retailers now and photos and reviews from socal contacts can really drive future sales. Molly Park at Papier stationery and cards describes how 100% user generated content really works. When someone ”in the friendship group puts it on instagram, my friends buy it” says Ms. Park enthusiastically. (7)
There is still a place for big budget TV advertising and the celebrity endorsement of well known stars if your budget allows it. Holly Willoghby is a great example of a popular TV presenter who easily commands a strong fashion and beauty following.
Peter Cross, John Lewis Partnership Customer Experience Director warns about a “darker side to influencers”. He outlines how it is essential to maintain “authentic endorsement, their trust has to be won.” Influencers have to be real and believe in the brand so they want to endorse a company or product. It is possible that online accounts can be faked and digital followers bought. This could easily negatively affect a small business if they incorrectly believe they are genuinely spending money on marketing with influencers who can help promote their reputation and it turns out to be a scam. Personally vetting all influencers before working with them is a smart way forward. (8)
5. Strong brands are powerful and get results
Nat Schooler is an entrepreneur who believes in the ‘personal power’ of an individual’s brand. Nat outlines in his podcast series the importance of creating a business brand with clear communication about ‘what you do’. “Solidifying your personal message can attract new clients and grow your business.” Mr Schooler advises positively. (9)
Brands do not have to be too bold and masculine when it comes to making an impression. Many household names such as WalMart have been rebranded to appear more appealing to women. Lorraine Carter at Persona Design describes how the well known toiletry brand Old Spice was redesigned to target wives and girlfriends who were actually buying the products. This is because women are responsible for more than 70-80% of purchasing decisions in the home. Ms. Carter advises to “Look for more innovative, intelligent, creative and appealing ways to satisfy your female audience, and your brand will flourish.” (10)
There are many great branding companies in all the major cities around the world. Collaborating with an established professional can help your association stand out. They say you have to ‘speculate to accumulate’. Feeling confident in your brand can bring rewards both online and in the physical workplace and when meeting potential new clients at events. Hiring a marketing agency can deliver results and ensure your corporation is the best it can be.
(1) ‘Six Powerful Tips to Build Your Retail Brand with Brand Advocates’ Talitha Lofthus, RetailNext, 2 November 2020 6 Powerful Tips to Build Your Retail Brand with Brand Advocates’ Talitha Lofthus, RetailNext
(2) Martin Brudnizki Design Studio MBDS, Interior Design, 3 March 2021 Martin Brudnizki Design Studio MBDS, Interior Design
(3) ‘Why Building Community Is Critical To Your Brand’s Success’ Paulina Karpis, Forbes, 29 November 2018 ‘Why Building Community Is Critical To Your Brand’s Success’ Paulina Karpis, Forbes
(4) Bob Novogratz Founder of The Novogratz Interior Design and Interiors Retailer, 3 March 2021 Bob Novogratz Founder of The Novogratz Interior Design
(5) Bryony Sheridan, Buyer, Liberty Ltd., 3 March 2021 Bryony Sheridan, Buyer, Liberty on LinkedIn
(5) Bryony Sheridan, Buyer, Liberty Ltd., 3 March 2021 Liberty London website
(6) Fiona McCarthy, Freelance writer & contributing editor, Vogue Living’s London editor, 3 March 2021 Fiona McCarthy, Freelance writer & contributing editor, Vogue Living
(7) Molly Park at Papier, Stationary, Cards and Gift Retailer, 3 March 2021 Molly Park, Papier on LinkedIn
(7) Molly Park at Papier, Stationary, Cards and Gift Retailer, 3 March 2021 Molly Park at Papier, Stationary, Cards and Gift Retailer
(8) Peter Cross, John Lewis Partnership Customer Experience Director, 3 March 2021 Peter Cross, John Lewis, LinkedIn
(8) Peter Cross, John Lewis Partnership Customer Experience Director, 3 March 2021 John Lewis website
(9) Nat Schooler Entrepreneur and Trusted Advisor, 3 March 2021 Nat Schooler Entrepreneur and Trusted Advisor
(10) ‘Branding For Women: Why Women are Redefining Brands and Branding’ Lorraine Carter, 7 January 2015 ‘Branding For Women: Why Women are Redefining Brands and Branding’ Lorraine Carter