Where does your brand start?

Or, more importantly, where does your brand stop?

Years ago buying products meant going to a store (physically) or at least opening up a catalogue (sorry America, that’s how it’s spelled). Side note: it’s weird how when I was a kid the notion of shopping from home seemed either rural, or something that you didn’t want to admit. And now, with this Internet and World Wide Web — it’s almost a trend!

Today, brands are reaching out in so many different ways – both to sell and to create awareness (which eventually creates sales, so I’m told). Whether it be traditional advertising, social/digital marketing, websites or in-store. And in some case, stores. For example, Apple – you may have heard of them. They make a few consumer products. They had a great leader – but he’s dead now. Yeah, that Apple.

Hard to believe that the First one opened in 2001, or that there are 421 (as of this date) worldwide. Apple wanted to have their own experience when showcasing the products. Ultimately they wanted control over that experience – hence the reference to the dead leader, Steve Jobs. I think he understood more than anyone the importance of owning your brand – not just physically, as in the products. But almost spiritually – how the store allowed you to move, how you interacted with the products and overall be in the mindset of Apple.

Above and beyond that Apple has moved to taking that control further. Basically having mini stores in other retailers. It’s not uncommon to find an Apple display in a Best Buy or a  WalMart. It’s part and parcel of having that power – the sales weight combined with an unflinching attitude. But, that approach is slowly seeping into other brands. Now you can be standing in front of a branded sales area for Beats (by Dr Dre) or Bose, or a few more. And the real estate that they take up varies. Depending of course on product depth and how much they’re willing to pay for that space.

It is quite a natural progression for brands that are setting their own tone – through product development, unique product offerings and stand-out company personalities. It’s really just another place to harness and expose a brands wherewithal.

Where will the next level of brand-takeover be?


It’s not just retail

I happen to be shopping for a few things yesterday and found myself in two different stores with very similar experiences. Neither good.

The stores envolved were Wal-Mart and The Bay – I mention it only to let people know to what scale I believe that bad employee connections are happening.

At Wal-Mart I was in line when an employee waltz’d through the line of customers waiting to pay – without once uttering the words Excuse me or Thank you. Getting to her cash area, she then proceeded to set up the area – then once ready turned to the next consumer and said ‘Next’. Not ‘next please’, ‘I can help you over here’, ‘I can assit the next customer’ – I don’t know, something that remotely resembles human communication in a polite manner.

After that I made my way over to The Bay – which is looking more and more like a scene from Omega Man (poorly stocked shelves and evaporated staff). The Bay used to be the beacon of Canadian shopping – a place to go and be proud. Those days have long been captured by history only to be read about in books. I headed to the ‘Service’ area – which is a nicer way of saying ‘Pay Us’, ‘You Pay Here’. I waited for a good three–four minutes while the only sales rep in the area sorted shoes on a rack no more than 10 metres away. I made the customary loud noise when putting my purchase on the counter – nothing. After a minute – I did it again – nothing. All the while standing in a place to catch her eye as she sorted the shoes into pairs. Finally I had to ask, out loud is she was working!

I had to ask her is she was working. Willing as a front-line employee of The Bay to accept my money-for-goods transaction. And bricks and mortar stores are wondering why people are moving more and more purchases online? Why indeed.

There are always excuses offered up – minimum wage, students, crappy working conditions, etc.

These are some mitigating aspects to the situation – but overall I think people are unhappy to be working (they hate their job). The problem is that I can see you hating your job. People might hate their job at Amazon – I just don’t see it.

You can hate your job. Just don’t do your job with hate.