Top retailers in any category understand the importance of their brand, their brand promise and how they deliver on that promise. They understand that given a choice, consumers would rather spend their money with retail brands they know, like and trust. So how recognizable is your c-store brand and what is it that you promise your customers they can expect when they shop at your stores? If you don’t know what your brand promise is, don’t be alarmed, most c-store operators don’t. This creates an opportunity for more savvy operators to differentiate themselves from most competitors by strengthening their brand, clarifying their brand promise, and consistently delivering on that promise.
Branding and advertising experts will tell you that a store “speaks” to them when they walk in the front door. Walk into your stores like you have never been there before and try to understand what the stores are saying? Are they saying you are a discounter with low frills, part of a chain or an independent store operator? Is it a comfortable shopping environment? What do you smell? What do you hear? Is this a place you would want to buy hot foods? Before you are able to build a minion of loyal followers you need to have a brand that is recognizable and consistently presented from store to store.
With most majors exiting retail and the industry becoming more fragmented as a result, a growing gap is available for regional c-store operators to fill by strengthening their brands. They will be rewarded with a more loyal customer following and higher sales. Branding is not a quick hit, it is a long term commitment to your customers that you make and deliver on day in and day out. Take time to develop a brand promise that rings true. Customers are smarter than you think. They crave consistency and those who deliver on their brand promise will be rewarded.