Category Archives: Retail

Making A Movement: REI’s #OptOutside Turns Branding into Meaningful Action

In our exploration of successful, authentic brands, we’ve discovered a number of recurring themes. Brands that stand out in the minds of consumers aren’t shy about sharing their purpose. They’re aware of and intentional about the value they’re promising to their customers and how they deliver it. They know that a great customer experience really starts with taking care of their employees. They understand the power of words (especially taglines) in communicating their value, and they back those words up with action.

One enduringly successful brand, the outdoor lifestyle-focused REI (which is celebrating 80 years this year), has taken the concept of brand action to new heights in recent years. Their OptOutside movement boldly reshapes the status quo among retailers and provides a powerful model for brands that want to turn their brand image into a signifier of something greater.
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Inside In-N-Out Burger’s Powerful Employee Experience

Building an authentic, influential brand is about more than the customer experience. The best brands work from the inside out to create a positive environment for their employees as well. Of course, employee experience directly impacts customer experience, especially in industries where customers and employees must frequently interact. There is perhaps no industry in which this holds more true than in food service.

In-N-Out Burger, the fast food company we recently hailed as a “branding genius,” is in the news again. This time, the attention is on their dedication to the employee experience. From “crazy good pay” to work-life balance, In-N-Out Burger has come to be seen as the leader in fast food employee experience. Let’s take a look inside the brand and explore how its employee’s experience contributes to its success.
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How to Create & Sustain Brand Loyalty

There are many schools of thought about what creates and sustains brand loyalty (that is, a consumer’s preference for one particular brand over another in the same market space). These range from practical matters of convenience to complex and interwoven psychological factors. In the age of social media, we often hear that “engagement” in an ongoing dialogue with a brand is what creates loyalty. Other marketers swear by the psychology of color in creating consumer preferences.

The reality is much more nuanced than either of these approaches indicate, of course. The deeper drivers of connection with a brand are more subtle than memorable packaging, a brilliant logo, or a witty Twitter mascot. New and growing brands that leverage these underlying factors to connect with customers can elevate their position in consumer consciousness and reap the rewards of brand loyalty and evangelism.
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Visual Branding in the Age of Social Media

As the saying goes, a picture is worth a thousand words, and today’s consumers are more visual than ever. Due in large part to the dominance of social media, we live in a world that is saturated with images. With so many selfies and “foodie” photos flashing in front of our eyes everyday, we’re over-exposed and yet primed for visual communication.

For marketers and branding experts, the challenge is to cut through the clutter and make your brand and your product stand out (both online and on the shelves). How can you tell your brand story visually? Here are a few tentpoles of visual branding to consider.
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Your Customer Satisfaction Survey Stinks: 3 Ways Companies are Misled by Shallow Metrics

Every company claims to care about customer satisfaction. Fancy television salesman claim that “customers make the difference” or that “they’re our bottom line.” On the Internet, the large majority of client landing pages have the word values or goals in bright colors, immediately followed by claims about how their customers come first.

While it's understandable why many companies make these claims—regardless of how valid they are—what's alarming to me is the percentage of companies that are completely backwards in the way that they measure their customer feedback. It's as thought they think it's more important to claim satisfied customers than to actually find out what makes them tick. Not only do the majority lack the proper strategies to accurately gauge satisfaction, but they also compound the mistake by making serious decisions based on the inaccurate data they gather.

Let's take a look at the ways we can properly measure customer satisfaction and fix broken surveys!

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Marketing & Habit Formation

In a recent discussion of a proposed new product, Alan McClure suggested that the product might be so simple to use, that it could become a cultural phenomenon overnight — simply through habit formation.

That comment led to a long discussion of retailers and products that we all buy almost out of habit.

– Southwest is the winner in the airline category for simplifying ticket purchases, check in and rewards.

– Apple’s stores are the best at the brick & mortar retail experience: well-displayed products, knowledgeable employees, roving employees with wireless credit card readers/printers and the best technical support anywhere.

– is the master at simplifying an on line purchase. The company’s patented "One Click" makes buying almost too easy. (My business manager once told me that I have $100/week habit on Amazon.)

Mike Laddin, LeaderPoint‘s president, weighed in on the idea of habit formation and retailing. His point is that the retailers that remove the most friction from a buying process and offer solid products – benefit the most from repeat purchasers. Ease of use – becomes frequent use – becomes habit.

Mike explained, "Many firms attempt to remove friction from their internal processes (to make them more efficient) – only to have that process add friction to the customer.  What matters is ease of shopping/selections/buying process from the customer’s perspective."

How much friction is there in your retail process? How many customers buy from you out of habit?