“Transforming a brand into a socially responsible leader doesn’t happen overnight by simply writing new marketing and advertising strategies. It takes effort to identify a vision that your customers will find credible and aligned with their values.” –Simon Mainwaring

Bold, sassy, gorgeous, evocative, functional, emotional, aspirational, intelligent. Does this describe your perfect relationship, or perhaps could it describe the perfect brand?

Although brand connection may not be the first thing that comes to mind when you think retail, there are some striking connections.

Fit retailers create real, strong, and loving relationships with their customers through their brand. They have fun with them and make each and every customer feel like they are their number one priority. The brand is the embodiment of this relationship.

Apple is the most well known brand for the emotional human connection it has with its customers. It has created products that are bought for the love of technology,  made with people in mind. Customers become a part of an Apple community and crave the next big product release – they would buy peanuts from them if Apple said they were cool!

First impressions count

The customer interaction starts at the very first moment the customer comes to hear about your brand. It might be from a friend, online, social media, advertisements, or by walking past a physical store. This first impression is the moment your customer will remember you for, so make it count.

The key fitness tips to think about at this stage include your store design and fit out, window displays, brand name and style, omni-channel replication, and all customer engagement points. All these aspects should be irresistibly charismatic and memorable. They should tie together and attract people to all aspects of your brand and offer.

Make great first impression and they might just visit your brand again.

Wine and dine them

This first date stage in the relationship is where selling yourself is essential. Customers will by now be talking with your sales people, browsing your website, checking your social media and getting to know what your brand is about.

If your customers are excited about what you have to offer, they will tell their friends, family, and anyone who wants to listen about the new interest in your life, including flirting and following you on social media. These interactions need to be fun, innovative, and exciting.

Coca-Cola has always done a brilliant job of selling its personality to their target customer. Coca-Cola don’t just sell a soft drink, it sells fun! Advertising messages include the tag line ‘open happiness’, along with bright fun colours, chirpy music, and happy, attractive people.

This brand personality is what sets Coca-Cola apart from Pepsi, LA Ice, or any other Cola brand for that matter.  Think Hollister for a similar brand relationship with its customers.

Listen and learn

While selling yourself is important, getting to know your brand is essential – after all, how can you form a real relationship with someone you hardly know?

Find out all you can about your customers, from their name, birthday, favourite colour, wedding anniversary, and now we add a greater level of intimacy. This is personality profiling and advanced techniques for finding out just who and why our brand is loved by which customers.

Once you really know your customer you can tailor your messages to that individual. By targeting relevant campaigns to the right customer at the right time, they will be more inclined to buy from you.  And guess what they call a brand that tries to be all things and easy for every consumer ? Typically referred to as a failing brand. Great brands build relationships with those customers that they want, not just any one.

Giving consumers a reason to visit your brand is now increasingly superseded with even new relationship cues, moving to “give them a cause” to love your brand. Here we look to companies such as Nike, Lorna Jane, and Smiggle.

Communicating with your customers as individuals through tailored messaging can strengthen your customer relationships and increase return on investment. As the relevance of your messaging to your customers lifecycle stages and preferences increases, so too will your sales and customer loyalty. Build a strong  brand foundation with the customer, listen to what they want, give them what they need, and they will love you for it.

Trust and security

Everyone (well at least most) want some degree of security in their relationships, and the consumer relationship with a brand of choice is no different.

Brand fidelity is built on consistency, doing what the brand says it will do and the ensuing trust. That said, great brands also offer an ongoing element of innovation, surprise, and fun –  all the ingredients for a great relationship.

Happy fitt retailing,
Retail Doctor Group

Join us at our next Fit for Business Breakfast event on March 11 and 12 in Sydney and Melbourne. Peter Birtles, CEO of Super Retail Group; together with Russell Zimmerman, executive director of Australian Retailers Association; and Brian Walker of the Retail Doctor will discuss current marketplace challenges and opportunities for Australian retailers to build fitter and more innovative businesses in 2014 and beyond.

Visit www.retaildoctor.com.au/events for further information.

First published by Inside Retail, March 2014