Our Thinking

Consistent Branding: Are Your Local Retailers Sending the Right Messages?

By Ed Higdon. Posted in Insight

December 10, 2014

Customers’ attentions are more fragmented than ever before: consistent branding, therefore, has never been more critical. To hold their attention, corporate and local messages must be coordinated and consistent to ensure that the customer experience is homogenous, no matter whether those customers interact with the brand or their local retailer.

The Potential For Customer Confusion

Inconsistent messaging distracts and confuses customers. For example, if a message in a local print advertisement does not connect with corporate website messaging or brand emails, the customer’s decision-making process can derail. They expect that an ad placed locally will look similar or identical to the messages they receive from the national brand. It is crucial for customers to experience a unified message between their local retailer and the corporate brand.

But consistency is often easier conceptualized than delivered, given the number of channels that customers have to interact with their favorite retailers. The complexity of customer behavior has actually outpaced many retailers’ abilities to respond effectively across all channels, especially when local marketing teams are involved in the process.

Local: Where It Can Go Awry

Local delivery of brand messaging has the highest potential for failure when it comes to keeping customers engaged and guiding them through the buying process. While objectives between corporate and local may be aligned, without the right tools, local marketers can unintentionally fumble the process – which can damage customers’ perceived value of the brand.

Take, for example, a high-end kitchenware organization: nationally, the brand is recognized as a quality, up-scale brand – but when a local retailer’s marketing email was unprofessional and rife with spelling errors, it damaged the credibility, integrity, and perceived value of the brand, making it appear unprofessional and clumsy. This is exactly where consistent branding comes in.

Consistent Branding Is A Corporate Responsibility

Ensuring that the brand is cohesive across the board is the responsibility of head office – not the local marketers. Corporate must provide their local teams with the right tools and guidelines to ensure that their messages are aligned.

Retailers can ensure a consistent brand message is delivered at the local level through a proactive and inclusive approach:

  • Embrace Localization. Customers want local marketing. Whether the local retailer is empowered to deliver that message, or corporate controls its delivery, make sure localized efforts are in place.
  • Treat Local Retailers As Partners. Customers don’t separate local and corporate identities; they see one brand. Therefore, information provided by local marketers can be useful to corporate and vice versa. Combine corporate insight with input from local marketers to determine what is relevant to customers in each location.
  • Have The Right Infrastructure In Place. If corporate does not have a cross-channel marketing portal in place, local teams will take it upon themselves to create their own materials and messaging, which virtually ensures fragmented branding.
  • Make It Easy. Local marketers don’t have the time, attention, and sophistication that the corporate marketing team has. Corporate must provide them with platforms and tools that are easy to manage. Provide local teams with a one-stop-shop for their marketing needs. Set up drag-and-drop templates that they can use to create their own campaigns that are not only consistent, but ensure compliance with advertising rules and regulations like the CAN-SPAM Act.
  • Give Staff Access To Information. Empower local teams to access the data and insights that you’ve collected about their customers. When they combine that with their own local intuition, they can create highly powerful and relevant messaging.
  • Provide Feedback. When local marketers can access a marketing portal, it will allow corporate to view local campaigns in their entirety. Provide feedback that will help teams to replicate success and improve upon missteps when necessary.

Consistent branding is necessary in order to maintain strong relationships with customers. However, creating that consistent brand is up to the corporate team. By providing local marketers with the right tools, corporate sets their teams up for success, and ensures that every message a customer sees maintains the look, feel, and integrity of the brand.