When companies we work with get it right (and there are a few), brand strategy works as a strategic platform to inform design decisions from product features/packaging/distribution/advertising, all the way down to in-store placement and merchandizing. It’s important. Consumers have relationships with brands. And as in any relationship, expectations matter.
If your brand is ‘out of character’ in any one place, consumers notice. They notice in the sort of way that creates confusion and disconnection. Some are likely to dismiss it as carelessness or ‘lack of attention to detail’ on the part of the brand. For others, it can completely break a carefully constructed image – Nike selling shoes out of ‘bins’; Hershey’s Kisses in rainbow colored packaging; Apple issuing ‘buy-1-get-1-free’ iPad coupons (none of these things actually happened, but you get the point).
Ironically, the one place most brands can be found ‘out of character’ is the place they are purchased – in-store.
Apple understood this when they created their retail experience. At a time when bricks-and-motor investments seemed ill-advised, they poured millions into a crafted retail experience that continued and extended brand immersion.
You don’t need to have Apple-type resources or an Apple-type brand to benefit from in-store brand consistency, you simply need to make sure your Shopper Marketing is informed from your strategic platform.
We see examples of this all the time in POPtimizer results. When mapping ‘Brand Personality’ traits for a display against the core traits of the brand, overlapping maps almost always produce stronger scores.
Shoppers express brand-POP disconnect in a number of ways. They often describe being ‘confused by the display’, or ‘surprised it came from that brand’, or express disappointment that it isn’t up to the high standards the brand is known for.
Will they still purchase the product? Maybe. But you’ve lost an important opportunity to continue the brand immersion and stay ‘in character’. That hurts you in the long run.
Your brand needs to be in-store, and it needs to be there in a consistent and impactful way. Designing to your brand platform and testing what you put in-store is the best way to make sure you stay on brand and on message.