Maverik’s Ernie Harker guides retailers through developing a unique brand.
By Erin Rigik Del Conte, Senior Editor
In an education session on Wednesday, titled, “Fans and Focus Through Branding,” Ernie Harker, executive director of CREATE at Maverik, walked attendees through a step-by-step process of building a unique brand with a competitive advantage.
“Does your brand guide the things you do every day? Does it create raving fans who tailgate before you open a store?” Harker asked the crowd.
Harker pointed to Stanford and Caltech research that shows brands alter reality.
Seven Steps To Branding
Harker talked attendees through the various steps crucial in crafting a brand.
Step one is to discover your brand. Ask yourself what makes your business unique that connects with your core customers. What do you want to be known for?
Maverik, for example, looks to bring action adventure into its stores in a way no one else can, so it we focuses on that attribute of its brand.
Step two is considering who do you want to target. It’s important to be very specific. For example, instead of “women” perhaps it is mothers with small children.
Next, in step three, identify your core belief. “A brand isn’t something you put on, it’s something you ARE. Core beliefs allow the brand to become a natural extension,” Harker said. At Maverik, its core belief is that adventure elevates life.
In step four, it’s time to outline your vision. “If all your dreams came true, what would your company accomplish?” Harker said. Maverik aims to bring adventure to everyday life. Your vision should inspire and be specific.
With your vision in place, step five involves describing your brand. For example, Maverik is exciting, off the beaten path and outdoorsy.
Step six is to establish design elements that fit with that vision, target customer and all of the above. This will impact colors and textures, image visuals, fonts and type faces and even the vocabulary you use should strengthen your brand.
Step seven involves actualizing your brand. Introduce a logo. Harker noted that while a logo can captures the essence of what you do, it doesn’t always have to do that. “It’s more important that it is well designed and easy to read. You create meaning with your logo,” he said, pointing to Apple’s logo. Next, develop a 2-4 word tagline. And run your private label packaging through the brand descriptors using your predefined design elements. Interior and exterior design elements and employee uniforms should drive the experience of customers. Harker recommends developing your own definitions for team names and departments to reinforce the brand.
Even if you develop a cohesive, consistent brand, opportunities will crop up that will threaten to take you away from your message. Perhaps another color paint or uniforms that don’t convey your message. Every time you deviate from your messaging, it gets easier to do it again and again until your brand becomes inconsistent and sloppy.
“Consistency is key,” said Harker, who explained that once the brand is created companies will need to protect it, and take new ideas through the seven step process to determine if they really fit with the image and message the company has set out to convey.