High-end retailers such as Neiman Marcus and Harrods have long enjoyed dedicated brand affinity with consumers, but now (arguably thanks to Target) merchants across every tier of retail, from mass to class, identify as brands—not just as places that sell others' brands. The concept of retailer-as-brand has been around long enough that most take it for granted, yet presenting a consistent brand across locations and touch points presents a new challenge.
These days, retailers' brand impressions proliferate across a growing number of touchpoints that might include multiple store formats, dedicated websites, mobile, social media, and even competitors' stores and online marketplaces. Soon, virtual and augmented reality will get thrown into the mix, potentially spawning still more brand channels.
Creating and maintaining a consistent brand message may be challenging, but retailers have no choice but to tackle it head-on. A few are stepping out to do just that in three less-than-obvious ways.