An omnichannel approach to marketing means seamlessly fusing together a number of different channels, which could include a website, social feeds and physical retail location, into a consumer experience that results in high-quality brand recognition. Omnichannel strategies are increasingly common, and can play a pivotal role in the success and growth of a brand.
One of the challenges of taking an omnichannel approach, however, especially one that integrates a brick and mortar space, is maintaining a consistent brand identity throughout all the channels. It’s important to have a strategy that incorporates the original brand and brand awareness, while differentiating each channel just enough so that it is clear that it is a branch of the brand itself. Below are tips on how to maintain brand identity when planning and executing an omnichannel strategy.
Have a Clear Objective
Before launching an omnichannel approach, you should have a clear objective for what you are trying to achieve on each channel, as well as what you are trying to achieve on all of them together as a cohesive whole.
The brand needs to have an overarching theme that is broad enough that you can be creative with the design for different channels, but is synthesized enough that it can be universal and an easily-recognizable branch of your brand. For example, universal elements can include the logo being placed in the same area on ads, incorporating a theme motto or phrase, using a specific color scheme and fonts. Once these guardrails are in place, the design team can run with different ideas for visually promoting and designing each separate channel.
Use Current Brand Awareness
Brands that pursue omnichannel strategies very likely already have a strong brand awareness that needs to be considered when branching out into other channels. When considering multiple brands or a secondary brand for your channels, start with positioning and strategy. What do you want to achieve with each channel? How do marketing and asset designs reflect this?
At StickerYou, we are opening a brick and mortar retail space in Toronto, Canada in 2019, and we have already opened an online sticker store, The StickerYou Store, on Shopify in addition to our e-commerce website. When planning and strategizing these new channels, we experimented with a number of different designs and themes. While some of them felt right artistically, when we pulled back and viewed them from a broader perspective with brand continuity and strategy in mind, we realized that we couldn’t go too crazy because it would take away from the current brand awareness of our stickers, labels and other customized sticky products we had spent a decade building. We had to come up with something that was enough of a tweak on our original brand design to be unique, but still recognizable as StickerYou.
Analyze the Audience
An omnichannel approach only works if the interests of the customer are always at the forefront. After all, it is the consumer that’s going to influence click through rates and repeat purchases. Consider how and why a consumer might follow multiple channel paths to make a purchase. Because omnichannel marketing is nonlinear, brands must consider first how they want to be perceived by the consumer across a multitude of channels, so a seamless user experience is essential.
An easy way to begin thinking like the consumer, is to collect audience data and segment it accordingly. Figure out which channels are being utilized most by which target demographics. Internet, social media, newsletters, phone calls, in-store experiences, review sites are all channels consumers use to engage with brands, and different audiences will use them differently. As Forbes points out, 82% of smartphones users check mobile apps on purchases to make in-store and 45% will read reviews before purchasing.
Data analysis can also track which products consumers are purchasing and re-purchasing, and how consumers are converting. For example, a customer who works during the day may make a purchase online during the day but decide to pick it up from a store on their way home. Data analysis will show these consumer trends so that you can adapt your omnichannel strategy accordingly.
Maintaining a cohesive brand identity in an omnichannel strategy also means weaving marketing efforts that cross-promote throughout all channels. Consider each channel as a potential gateway to accessing another channel. For example, a passerby who stops in at your physical retail space may not purchase in-store, but may look up products they see online and convert through your website instead. Play around with different ways to promote across different channels. Send a newsletter with a coupon for app users only. Post a Tweet about a contest that’s happening on another social platform. Making sure people are exposed to all channels of your brand increases brand recognition and feelings of trustworthiness.
For many businesses, omnichannel strategies are the future. Maintaining brand identity when pursuing an omnichannel strategy takes strategy and planning, but is an important element in achieving successful results. By having a clear objective that incorporates current brand awareness, continually analyzing data for feedback and guidance and cross-promoting on multiple channels, a brand can effectively employ an omnichannel strategy without sacrificing already-established brand identity and awareness.
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