Tag Archives: brand image

Retail advertising

We at The Escape Pod have done more than our share of retail advertising.

Retail advertising is exciting because it’s intended to provoke a specific action in a specific time frame.

It’s gasoline on the fire.

Or it should be.

One thing we’ve observed over the years is that retail ads are only as good as the offer that they communicate.

A great offer automatically leads to a great retail ad. You can’t beat a great offer.

Yet a lot of retail brands fret about their “brand image”.

This puzzles me.

Because retail brands, more than other brands, are defined by reality. Not perception.

Not “image”.

You walk into a GAP store, for example.

Your impression of that experience IS the GAP’s brand image. To you.

The brand image is based on an actual experience. Not something advertising can modulate by being cute.

The GAP’s brand image is my actual real world experience of the GAP. And that’s a lot stronger than thirty seconds of vaguely charming TV.

The GAP does a better job than most at defining the brand image via the store design and shopping experience.

“We are the GAP. Do you need somewhat bland but attractive and versatile classic American casual wear? Yes? Great. Come in then!”

You ever been to an Apple store? I rest my case.

Retail is experience.

So might think that retailers would be less concerned with projecting an image. And more concerned with selling what they’ve actually got in their stores.

The only reason people go there in the first place. Nobody goes to a store to feel good.

But a surprising amount don’t.

They think they ought to have to have a role in your life, and your heart, that the vast majority of them really can’t ever have. And shouldn’t have.

They sometimes think they need to sell somethingmore than mere “stuff”. They need to sell a “lifestyle”. Whatever that means.

But you know what, selling stuff can be enough. The right stuff.

The stuff that I like.

Do you have what I need and want?

Maybe they should focus on that a bit more.

And then advertise that.

Being liked doesn’t get you very far in retail.

Just ask all those delightful and charming and beloved mom and pop bookstores that went away pronto when amazon.com came along.

Morrissey knows what’s up

Adweek writer Brian Morrissey (who i’m increasingly a fan of) backs up a dearly-held theory of ours in an article published today.

Excuse us if this strikes you as blindingly obvious but it goes like this. In the past, brands and advertising thrived on ignorance and lack of information. And one of the huge effects of the internet and interconnectivity in general is to shine a glaring megawatt spotlight into the shadows where bulls**t and dubious advertising claims once thrived. When you think back, one of the roles that advertising actually used to have was disseminating information. albeit very one-sided information. seems funny now, doesn’t it. but it wasn’t that long ago.

Interestingly, Morrissey (the journalist, not the singer, couldn’t resist) goes on to cite Zappos as an example of a brand that eschewed advertising in favor of building community. And i quote…”For Tony Hsieh, CEO at Zappos, meeting up with a customer at a bar in midtown Manhattan was perfectly natural. Most execs with 1,600 employees and doing over $1 billion in annual sales would probably pass on having drinks with an individual customer, but Hsieh is not your typical CEO. In the past week alone he had given away shoes on Twitter, sent out an open invitation to a company barbecue and solved a service problem a customer left in a blog comment…” Which is funny because that customer was…cue Hitchcockian sawing violin sounds…ME! That’s right. Me.

I went on a tirade about a bad zappos experience over at Tangerine Toad’s blog (using my nom-de-blog Toad’s Sixth Reader). And the zappos.com CEO Tony Hsieh contacted me and gave me a substantial gift certificate for my trouble. Which was great. He also, apparently, sensibly took my advice about selling kitchenware on a shoe site. Winking smiley face.

Anyway, if you’re like me, you’ve probably had it up to here with the endless chatter about “transparency” and “community” and “brand conversations” and all that malarkey they talk about at expensive conferences, AKA common sense. But the internet’s biggest effect on what we do/used to do is now readily apparent. When i started out in the advertising biz it was all about creating a “brand image”, which implies untruth doesn’t it. Image is a controlled projection of how we’d like to be perceived. A half truth at best.

Which, with apologies to Stephen Colbert, brings us today’s ESCAPOLOGISM (TM). Instead of creating brand images we now have to create “brand realities”(TM). An entirely different proposition.