What makes you buy a pair of shoes? When you walk into a shoe store, exactly what are the factors that make you buy a pair of shoes? Let’s walk back a little. What is it that makes you go to a particular shoe store? You might think that the quality of the product determines everything, but that has never been the case. Even inside the store, the quality of the shoe will only compel you to try it, not buy it. How can we say that with certainty? But wait a minute, if we are a core brand building and brand strategy agency, so why are we talking about shoes and shoe stores?
Shoes are one of the very few products where everything needs to be perfect for you. Right from the size, the fabric, the design, the price, the brand name, and a lot of other factors, all constitute the intangible ‘feel’ of the shoe. If there’s anything which doesn’t fit perfectly, it will be a loss for you and the shoe company both as you won’t wear the shoes, and because of your experience, you will be reluctant to buy from the same company. The same is true for brand development strategy and digital marketing. There is this certain ‘buying experience’ which everyone talks about, but a very few companies have understood the value of the same. This ‘buying experience’ is continuously evolving at an enormous pace regularly. For the sake of this story, we shall stick to the analogy of buying shoes from a shoe store and relate it to brand development, brand awareness, brand building, branding strategy and brand reinforcement to name a few.
So, where does this buying experience begin exactly? How do you attract a consumer to be interested in your brand? How do you know which customers to attract? What is the image of your brand? How important is it to create the right image? Once a customer decides to check out your brand, how will you make them stay? The questions are endless and daunting, especially for someone who is thinking about these questions for the first time. Let’s visit the shoe store and see if we can find some answers!
The Concept of Space
Strictly speaking in terms of branding, the concept of space has two facets – exterior and interior. Both of these facets have quite a few sub-categories that we can delve in detail. But for now, what you need to know is that the experience of an exterior space of your store will be the deciding factor for the customer to visit inside the store. You have to clearly portray your idea to your target group(s) in a way that they should be interested in exploring what your brand has to offer. Naturally, there are two questions that arise here. What constitutes an exterior space, and, how will you design it according to the needs of your customer?
An exterior branding space includes every platform – digital or outdoor – that talks about your product/service, and repeatedly highlights your brand name without physically showcasing your product/service. The design of this space will generally rely on two factors. The first factor is a target group that already buys something similar to what you are offering. The second factor is a potential target group who you want to attract. These two factors will also be key in shaping up your brand identity. The design of the exterior space is crucially interdependent on the platforms of exterior space where you choose to showcase your brand. Read that again.
For instance, in a shoe store, the platforms for exterior space might include hoardings, posters, digital campaigns, packaging products, brochures, etc., to say the least. The possibilities are endless really. Depending on the kind of shoes sold in the store, it is imperative to identify the competitors who sell similar shoes and from there on, identify the consumers who buy from those stores. Furthermore, the consumers have buying habits. There is a way to collect data which will provide insight on consumers’ buying habits. This data will provide an objective conclusion to recognise who is ideally, the ‘target audience’. Once the target audience is identified, the data should be intelligently integrated into aesthetic design and creative content for the brand. Every single element that is involved in creative design and content such as colours, words, shapes and sizes etc., should cater to the audience that was identified from the collected data.
Not only the target audience, but all these elements should have the potential to expand into broader horizons to continuously entice new customers and keep the brand engagement constantly increased. The culmination of these elements will eventually result in customers consciously deciding whether your brand stands out. This is a tiny part of the journey that your brand will go through with the customers. Once all of this plays well, then your customer will be interested in exploring the interior space of your brand.
An interior branding space is every platform – digital, outdoor and indoor – where the products/services your brand offers are effectively demonstrated in all their grandeur. But what should an interior space look like? What kind of space does your customer expect when he walks into your store or opens your website? Is it limited to showcasing the product and product details? How to figure out what the customer is expecting from your brand? And one of the most important questions which may as well determine the whole engagement with the customer – do you want the engagement to be a one time affair or a constant, long time proposition? As mentioned before, the questions are limitless.
Consider the shoe store. Where will the brand name and logo be placed? Do you want the store to be open and inviting or an exclusive store for a certain audience only? For example, a store made of reflective walls might be considered open and inviting, while opaque walls might be considered exclusive and intriguing. This is where the quest to figure out interior branding space begins. Every single thing inside that shoe store must adhere to the identity of the brand and the target audience that is wanted inside the store. The employees of the store, the uniforms of the employees, and the number of employees working in the store. The architecture – which itself consists of numerous things. The designs and spacing of the shoe racks, the shoe boxes, and the shoe bags. All of these are extremely basic elements which can be figured out with strategic research.
In simple words, this is a story about shoes. To get an audience to buy the shoes and its story, the brand has to create scenarios of interpersonal relationships between the shoes and the target audience. There are innumerable, continuously evolving, little and big elements which must be considered to keep this story running for as long as it can. The story needs to be crafted in such a way that the audience craves to experience the story again and again and again. Once you are successful in crafting an experience which is cherished multiple times, the only thing which will keep the brand growing is an element of surprise. If you have read the whole article, you will find that we have not spoken once about the quality of the product, i.e. shoes. We do not know how to make shoes. We know how to present them. We know how to showcase them. We know how to sell them.
If you have already established a brand but the growth is stagnant or in decline, and you want to know more about growing the brand and the element of surprise, read our next article here.