Part 1 of the Retail Mashup podcast focused on brand identity from the social media platform and messaging perspectives. In part 2, DeAnn and I discussed how brand identity could be improved through regular assessment, training, and failure adaptation.
Table of Content
46 percent of consumers in the United States surveyed said that they would pay more to purchase from brands they can trust (Salsify, 2022). This sentiment is shared by other consumers in major markets such as the United Kingdom and France. Brand identity is one of the elements that contribute to trust building.
Earlier, Larry Leung published an Insight piece about the implications of Twitter changes on brands and the actions they can take to reduce such consequences on their reputation, finances, and customer experience process. With Twitter’s brand identity and image influx, many brands are considering the next steps.
The first podcast episode went on a deeper dive into the Twitter changes and how brands like Facebook, Balenciaga, and others cope with brand identity challenges.
Section 1 – Recap – Brand Identity
(Larry) Welcome to Retail Mashup. This is Larry.
(DeAnn) Hi and I’m DeAnn.
(Larry) And on this episode, we are going to talk as a continuation of the last episode on understanding how brands can recover from a major mishap. In the last episode, we talked about Balenciaga and some of the things that the brand is going through and we don’t really know how long it’s gonna take for the brand to recover. But it is important to think about the process a brand should go through and we’ll call them “blueprints”. What to do next? DeAnn with Balenciaga, for example, what could they do now?
Section 2 – Balenciaga and Push Forward Blueprint
(DeAnn) They were very quick to act and call out the art director and, and let him go and make sure that the public understood that was not acceptable behavior in line with their brand. So the important thing is to act immediately and act quite loudly.
You need to make sure your blanket all your social media channels and your messaging channels to let people know that you see this and that you understand it’s a problem. This is not okay with you. This is a mistake and you’re going to fix it. What they do from this point forward is going to determine how quickly it takes them to recover, if they recover, and how much it’s going to cost them.
At the end of the day, we all make mistakes and even customers understand that and can be very forgiving of those mistakes. If they see that you own up to it and tell them what you’re gonna do to fix it, then they see you actually implementing that and fixing it.
(Larry) It’s important to have a strategy. We like to call it a blueprint on what to do when you’re encountering problems. It’s almost like, I would imagine almost like a fire drill where you purposely create scenarios for yourself so that you can test how your different departments can react on a standalone basis or together as a unit.
It’s important for Balenciaga not just to outwardly communicate to the world that it denounces certain aspects of marketing that were completed. They need to communicate to their customers that certain artistic decisions were not condoned and will not be tolerated in the future.
It’s also important to think about how their value system and the core of what the brand stands for in managing itself and creating a customer experience so that everybody would be on the same page in case mistakes are made.
Section 3 – Blueprint Extended
(DeAnn) I love that. And it really can’t be emphasized enough how important having that clear brand blueprint is going to be for all brands.
You need to be crystal clear on who you are and who you are not, and you need to make sure that every employee, regardless of their position in the company, is crystal clear on what you stand for and what you don’t stand for. A warehouse employee can cause a lot of damage by posting on social media and wearing a warehouse uniform with your brand logo on it.
Brand image (Image from Leonid Altman at Pexels)
So really creating that blueprint around the brand image, brand standards, brand voice. And getting involved in the community and communicating that out and encouraging your staff to embrace it and live it with you is going to be more important going forward than it has ever been before.
(Larry) I agree.
It’s important to have employees and management actively participating in exercises to understand a little more. Maybe it’s part of the annual tradition or multi-year thinking about the brand its concepts and its values because things changed and the market changed, and so the brands may have to shift with it.
Section 4 – JCPenney
(Larry) I have an example, JCPenney. It has been an iconic American retail brand for many decades. Back in the late 2010s, it got a new CEO just because sales were not doing so well. The new CEO came from the space of Apple retail and decided to change the way pricing would work. Similar to Apple Store, typically things don’t go on sale.
And so this particular CEO decided that, oh, maybe we wouldn’t have to change the pricing for the foreseeable time. that sounds like a great idea for a specific segment of the population. Unfortunately for the typical JCPenney customer who loves, loves, loves a sale, it’s almost part of that relationship with the brand, decided that JCPenney is no longer part of what they believe is important to their life shopping there. And so revenue dropped even more than anticipated after the new CEO arrived. A new CEO had to be brought in to revamp the customer experience and its pricing strategy in hopes to stabilize the company.
Section 5 – REI
(DeAnn) I think a good example of somebody who gets it right would be a company like REI. They have made it very clear what they stand for.
They stand for getting outdoors and supporting the environment. So not only as a company, do they invest in charities that support environmental protections and preserving nature and parks and habitats, but they also give their employees liberal time-off policies and a chance to go out in the environment.
They close on holidays. So not only customers, but employees can get out in the outdoors and they have great employee perks and benefits for learning about products, trying out products, and purchasing products at a discount.
So when you go into an REI and, and I go in there often with my husband and I have never encountered an employee who wasn’t a wealth of knowledge about all things outdoors and actually uses many of the products themselves. So if you’re looking for a sleeping bag, a camp chair, a stove, or a climbing rope, the employee who helps you nine times out of ten actually uses it and can tell you what he likes and doesn’t like, and can give you tips and tricks.
Living those values and communicating those values to the employees and the customers has made for an extremely positive retail environment for that retailer.
Section 6 – Gathering Data
(Larry) That’s such a great example. Moving into really having those metrics and understanding what employees are thinking because they’re part of the customer base.
Those are the best types of information that a brand can have. If your employees are customers themselves, they would be able to tell you if there are any gaps identified by them as a customer or a part of the delivery process or even the way they’re being engaged. I like to think that my brand knows who I am because of the years and years of transaction data and engagement with me that they have been having.
In a lot of cases, brands don’t actually know too much about who I am as their customer, and they never fully engaged what my needs are. Do you think there are potential opportunities for brands to activate, say third party or different tools to really go through the customer experience journey so that they know what’s happening whether or not it’s marketing that’s effective, whether or not products and services are up to the standard of the new marketplace?
Do you think there is such a need?
(DeAnn) I do, and I think that we’re starting to see some of the tools necessary to gather that data coming online in a way that is more affordable, and more approachable for a larger range of retailers. Digital media is one of those tools a lot of retailers are starting to realize.
You can put digital screens inside your store. You can play ads on those screens. And in addition to that, you can gather through the use of heat map cameras where customers are standing for any length of time. In the past, data has really been tied to sales POS data. So what are customers buying?
But that only tells a small part of the story. Is there a product in the store that every customer picks up and looks at for a long time? That ends up not buying. That information is even more valuable than the information of what the customer actually ended up buying. Cuz you put those two things together and then you not only increase your revenue, but you reduce your wasted spend or your losses from buying the wrong product, and not merchandising it correctly.
Maybe the attributes of that product aren’t clear. So many ways that, that data like that can show. True customer behavior and measure it against sales results to see where the gaps are.
Section 7 – Net Promoter Score
A lot of retailers use Net Promoter Score. I’m not a fan of Net Promoter Score because you’re asking customers to tell you how they felt long after the fact.
And they’re probably emotionally remembering the last thing they did. Not the whole trip. So they might have had three wonderful things happen in the store, but their checkout experience was lousy, so fail or vice versa. They may have had three lousy things happen and one great thing, it’s the last thing they remember.
So they mark your score high. It’s doing the retailer a disservice because you are not seeing what is really happening. You’re seeing what the customer remembers as happening. and there’s value in that data. But without the rest of the story, it is very difficult to make effective decisions and spend money on the right tools in your store, and the right resources.
Section 8 – Observational Skills / Employee Training
(Larry) I agree that the Net Promoter Score is only giving one side of the story. There may be many sides and many components of the story.
One of the things I know, personally speaking, it’s observational skills. I sometimes hope that a retail store team member would be trained on how to observe the flow of the customers. You mentioned why are people picking up a product but not buying it or putting it in their basket.
That’s a very telling sign whether or not the item itself, it’s not of the quality standard for the customer, maybe it’s pricing, maybe a combination of other variables. It’s actually important for the employees, the team members, to be trained on asking. relevant questions so that changes can be made accordingly.
(DeAnn) Absolutely and I think that connecting the brand image that customers see on social media to the experience of actually buying and the employee assistance that they receive from that, be it customer service or online or the in-store frontline staff that’s only going to reinforce the perception of the brand.
And so that training is an absolutely essential tool, and it’s so often overlooked. They train their employees on the facts of the job. This is how you ring up a sale. This is how you take a tag off of a piece of clothing. This is how you look up an item number. But not a lot of retailers train employees on how to react.
Section 9 – Chick-fil-A / Final Words
(DeAnn) A good example is Chick-fil-A. They do an outstanding job to teach employees not only how to do the technical aspects of the job, but how to say thank you. How to say – you’re welcome. How to say – Yes sir, Yes ma’am. And to train those responses into them, which creates this incredibly positive customer experience.
(Larry) And on that note, why don’t we end here? On the next episode, we’ll talk more about how to treat employees and how can we help empower employees to be the best that they can be.
(DeAnn) Thank you.
(Larry) Thank you.