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Brad VanAuken Branding & Retail Branding: Just Ask...

Retail Brand Strategy: Brick And Mortar Versus Online

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Brand Strategy Online Retail

Today on Branding Strategy Insider, another question from the BSI Emailbag. Ahmed, an entrepreneur and brand marketer in San Francisco, California writes:

"I own a modern furniture company and sell numerous brands. At the same time, I want to build my own company brand, called Urban Loft, because (1) the name alone is the ideal name for the lifestyle/product and (2) I’ve successfully trademarked the name and want to take advantage of it. In an ideal world, the products I sell would be exclusive to me and this will be a non-issue. But in today’s internet era manufacturers are acting like retailers — pushing their own brands — good for them, but it conflicts with my interests and building awareness for my brand.

It seems I have two options. First, I can sell products (either on the web or in the retail store) without marketing my manufacturers' brand. Or I can go with the flow (like most retailers online) and market that I sell other brands. This article recommends the second option. What do you recommend?"

Thanks for your question Ahmed. Is your store primarily a brick and mortar store or an online store? If it is a brick and mortar store, there are significant advantages to branding your store. Having a strong retail brand is a primary source of leverage when negotiating with manufacturers’ brands. Plus, the actual retail space allows you to create a specific branded environment and customer experience. Your store will come to stand for something, a certain style or lifestyle or something else. While I wouldn’t mask what manufacturers’ brands you carry in your store, especially if they are brands with allot of equity, I would focus on what your brand stands for and create the right environment, retail display, service level, mix of products, etc. to reinforce that brand. If you are primarily an online furniture retailer, the brands you carry, the website functionality and especially your product pricing, become very important to your success. The way you present products so that people can get a sense of the “look and feel” and the quality is also important.

If you are a manufacturer of modern furniture with multiple consumer brands in your portfolio, you should carefully think through your brand portfolio to determine if you have the appropriate brand architecture or if you are supporting too many brands, some of which could be merged into the other brands. The brand architecture exercise would also help you determine the proper relationship between the parent (company) brand and the individual product brands. Whether you are primarily a furniture manufacturer or retailer, a brick and mortar store would provide the most powerful platform for expressing your brand’s identity and promise. There is something to be said for creating a strong retail brand and, in the furniture category, I would believe that there is a significant advantage to customers being able to touch, feel, see and try out the furniture before purchasing it.

Thanks for your question Ahmed. Do you have a question related to branding? Just Ask…

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Retail Brand Strategy: Brick And Mortar Versus Online