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Defining the Brand, Part 1

Image © Doug Wittnebel

With the pervasiveness of brand fatigue these days, consumers are feeling less loyal to brands than ever. At the same time, they are finding new ways to interact with brands and express their opinions, ideas and preferences. In fact, one can say that participation is the new consumption. Brands are now including their most loyal fans in product development and creation allowing customers to truly be part of and speak for their favorite brands. The shopping experience MUST be unique and fun in order for consumers to stay not only brand loyal, but to become brand advocates.

To combat brand fatigue, retailers turning to big data to better engage with individual shoppers. From social media to online searches to in-store purchases—companies are finding smart, meaningful ways to use data to provide a more personalized shopping experience. Macy's has started using iBeacons to communicate and push promotional offers to customers while they shop in-store. Other retailers, like Abercrombie & Fitch, utilize their twitter and email accounts to provide focused promotions to get their customers into stores or online for purchases. Additionally, facial recognition systems are starting to be adopted to identify customers at they enter the store, so merchants can personally greet them by name.

But even as retailers push forward in their quest to distinguish their products and carve out niches within an increasingly crowded marketplace, they must caution against devaluing both their brand's image and products through the overuse of all too common words like "bespoke." Creating brand loyalty will require retailers to do more than rely on tired clichés. Such an approach will only add to the noise; it will not help a brand stand out amongst the crowd.

Kevin Songer is the retail practice area leader for Gensler's southeast region and a design manager based in Gensler’s Atlanta office. Kevin has extensive experience in national and international retail, restaurant design, and construction. Contact him at kevin_songer@gensler.com.

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