While millennials continue to luxuriate in their bedroom couch to purchase the latest “Colourpop” palette or Adidas “Stan Smith” in a few clicks, the online retail industry has already shifted its mark. Even though dominating the digital world, retail giants like Alibaba, remained hungry for more sales opportunities and embarked on a trend of converging into offline businesses by establishing their brick-and-mortar presence. With the aim of achieving the best of both worlds, online retails are opening physical stores to reach out to new consumers that were not accessible digitally and also the aim to open up a new world of experience for their customers.
Going offline is an exciting opportunity for the online retailer. However, another challenge arises – achieving a seamless brand identity online and offline. Colliding the two different worlds would require brand consistency throughout the transition.
Brand consistency lies on the 3 pillars which are an aligned brand experience, effective online to offline transition for marketing collaterals, and a seamless retail experience.
1) Consistent Brand Experience
Birthed and grown in the digital world, most online retailers are structured and accustomed to operate through virtual tools and devices to online audiences. Now moving offline, there are necessary adjustments to be made, as the transition involves reaching out to customers in real life. A key component for an online brand to transit effectively is by creating and implementing a brand guideline.
These are the key considerations for an effective brand style guideline:
- Logo consistency, placement and approved colors on collaterals
- Core company colors to be used for various collaterals
- Styling and color tones of photos
- Voice tone and style of company content
Here are some points to consider when doing the analysis:
This, of course, is a basic introduction to the content within the brand guideline and there are many more components to be included inside.
A good example would be the popular online retailer Shopify. By developing an extensive brand guideline, Shopify ensures that their unique brand experience stay consistent in their online and offline marketing activities.
Photo source: Inkbot Design
A sample of their brand guideline can be accessed in their website.
2) Effective Transition between Online to Offline Marketing Collaterals
In the online space, collaterals are often viewed through the screens and one-dimensional. Once you take it offline, offline collaterals are often far more complex and diverse in their applications. In consideration to the varying materials and sizes of offline collaterals, online retailers need a more holistic approach towards offline marketing strategy to ensure a cohesive brand identity. An effective strategy to be adopted during transition is creating a complementary relationship between the two types of collaterals.
Here are some guiding questions that online retailers could ask themselves to achieve cohesive marketing collaterals and embrace the transition:
- What is your overall brand vision for the store?
- What are the key focal points in the retail space?
- How can the design of the store increase the attractiveness of the products?
- Is your product packaging optimized for your store?
An online retailer who have executed their online vision into a store reality is Goop. It is a modern lifestyle retail owned by the actress Gwyneth Paltrow, Goop effectively realized their online world of wellness-lifestyle and celebrity branding into their bungalow store by giving shoppers a taste of Gwyneth Paltrow’s own home.
This unique experience draws new customers to understand and cement the strong brand identity of Goop.
Photo Source: Architectural Digest
3) Seamless Retail Experience
People still enjoy the in-store benefits of seeing, touching and feeling products while indulging in the retail experience. Online retailers can cultivate stronger brand loyalty with their unique brand concept, particularly in the retail experience that they offer.
There is a need to create creative experiences in the store to bring out the brand story effectively.
Here are the key considerations to ensure a seamless retail experience:
- What does your brand mean to your customers?
- How would people describe your company if it was a person and how would that translate into a retail experience?
- How would your customers describe your retail experience to their friends?
A prime example would be Love, Bonito moving into the retail space. After seven years of prospering in the digital world, Love, Bonito positions themselves as a business that values growth and support amongst women. This central concept became their approach in designing their physical space, which is geared to bringing customers together for workshops and talks.
Love, Bonito also trains their staff to assist shoppers and provide styling tips on deciding clothes that best fit their body types.
Photo Source: Business Insider
The clicks-to-bricks trend is here to stay, as the opportunities of expanding customer base and engaging with regular customers are too big an opportunity to miss. However, transitioning online retail may fall into the danger of a disconnected brand experience due to the differing marketing processes in the online / offline world. Hence, in order to increase brand loyalty and maintain strong identity, online retailers need to follow the golden rule of brand consistency, which is achieved by keeping an aligned brand experience, marketing collaterals and retail experience constant across both platforms.
The transition from online to offline can be challenging and uncertain, therefore collaborating with a design company to facilitate the phase and ensure seamless branding would be recommended.