What is branding? Depending on who you ask, you'll get a varying definition of what branding is. After a quick Google, these were the most common.
- A name, design, or symbol that distinguishes one retailer's goods from another
- What a company stands for in terms of service or other non-tangible elements
- Aligning what your about your company and what other think
- A promise to your customers
Which answer is correct? The truth is, they all are. Branding encompasses everything, from your logo and color scheme to your retail brand's personality.
A lot of thought is put into these elements when a business is first formed but they are rarely given a second thought after that. No matter how much you love your company's branding, eventually the time will come to rethink it. Why? Design trends change, your reputation shifts, new competitors enter the market, or your business evolves are a few of the many reasons.
Getting into the habit of evaluating your branding at the start of each year is a good practice to have. If this isn't something you've done in a while, there are probably a few signs that it is time for a rebrand.
Do any of these signs it's time for a rebrand apply to your retails company?
1. Your website is dated both functionally and visually.
Your website is the first impression people get of your brand. Consumers of all industries expect technology to be part of their experience, especially in the retail industry.
A dated website limits your company's ability to deliver the information your potential customer needs to make their purchase decision. Even if all the information they need is there, a visually dated website hurts your credibility and can inadvertently create security concerns. In an ecommerce situation, a potential customer may be dissuaded to make a purchase due to concerns about the security of the personal information.
Your website should be your online sales person. It should have information readily available to visitors in each phase of the buyer's journey (think reviews, product information, shipping/return information, and quality photography). Your website should also capture shoppers information and gradually nurture potential customers into customers through various remarketing and marketing automation tactics.
2. Your brand doesn't have a defined voice and tone.
Voice and tone are the most overlooked elements of branding. Neglecting to establish a voice and tone can lead to inconsistencies in your brand's messaging.
Retail brands have more opportunities than ever to interact with their customers and potential customers. With traditional print and television advertising, brands communicate in an outbound fashion. Through social media, retailers can have actual conversations with their followers. Because of this, establishing a voice and tone is an important part of your brand.
Voice is your style, your point of view, and your personality. It is everything that encompasses your brand's personality. Decide if your brand:
- Is formal or casual
- Uses humor
- Uses slang
- Uses emojis 👍🏼
- Uses industry specific jargon
- Responds to certain specific situations on social media (complaints, compliments, questions, etc.)
Tone is specific to your messaging and part of your brand's voice. According to Written.com, where your voice more than likely sits in the same spot - and is who you/your brand inherently are/is - your tone can change depending on the type of message you're conveying.
Here's the example they gave: If your voice is funny/humorous, is your tone:
- Funny ha-ha?
- Mean funny?
- Dark humor?
3. Your brand and message are no longer aligned.
Brand message refers to the underlying value proposition conveyed and language used. It’s what makes buyers relate to your brand by inspiring them, persuading them, motivating them, and ultimately making them want to buy your product.
Most retailers' product and service offerings evolve as time goes on due to shifts in the marketplace or changes in customer demand. It's important to make sure your brand message accurately reflects your retail business and brand. Ask:
- What matters to your customers?
What makes your products/services unique?
4. You haven't defined a target audience.
If your company hasn't defined who they want their audience to be, how can they effectively brand and market themselves? The answer is, they can't. By not defining who your target audience is, you may not be reaching them in the right place with the right message.
Every retailer should create buyer personas. These are fictional representations of your ideal customers. Personas help with every aspect of branding by helping with branding by guiding the creation of the visual aspects of your brand, messaging, and voice.
When creating buyer personas, analyze your contact database and conduct interviews with customers, potential customers, and third parties. Conduct 3-5 interviews for each persona you want to create. Use a sampling of people that would represent both your ideal customer as well as non-ideal in order to paint a precise picture of who you want to target.
Here is a list of questions to go through when creating retail buyer personas.
5. Your logo hasn't been updated. Ever.
As your business evolves, so should your logo. Design trends change with time and not changing along with them dates your brand. Find out when your logo was last updated and compare it to current design trends or best practices.
Updating your logo does not have to be drastic. In fact, if you study how iconic brands have evolved their logos over time, most changes are subtle. In the image below, you can see how Shell has gradually, subtly evolved their logo.
Image via Shell
Knowing when to rebrand doesn't have to be complicated. Getting key decision makers within your organization on board early on is key, so make sure to do your homework and be prepared to defend your reasoning. Make sure to set goals for the rebrand and lay out a detailed plan of exactly what will happen as well as well as deadlines for each step.