Hardware Retailing

SEP 2017

Hardware Retailing magazine is the pre-eminent how-to management magazine for small business owners and managers in the home improvement retailing industry.

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HARDWARE RETAILING | September 2017 86 As an independent home improvement retailer, there are a few lessons you can take away from CrossFit boxes. First, when people have a positive experience with your business, they become a loyal fan and will happily tell stories about their experiences to others. Second, even though the overall method and business model of each box is the same, they are all unique, which increases their brand loyalty with customers. If you operate under a co-op, this concept is likely very familiar to you. While your co-op is part of your identity, having a brand that's completely unique to your business is important to create loyal customers. "Brand" has become a word that means something different to everyone. What does it mean to have a brand? For some retailers, it means a store logo and a Facebook page. Others may take advantage of their wholesaler's branding efforts. Both can be part of the equation, but building a strong brand for your business is about creating a story and an experience your customers want to engage with. On the following pages, Hardware Retailing breaks down the fundamentals of establishing a brand and how the concept has changed. We also discuss why building relationships is a vital part of having a strong brand. Finally, we'll help you define and design a brand that makes sense for your business. What is a brand? • A brand is part object. According to the American Marketing Association, a brand is a "name, term, design, symbol, or any other feature that identifies one seller's good or service as distinct from those of other sellers." With this description in mind, a brand is a concept that is applied to a company's product or service. For example, the CrossFit brand is identified by its fitness method's unique name, and at Starbucks, the brand is the logo you see on every cup. • A brand is part experience. Beyond its basic definition, branding started to expand from being object-based to encompassing an entire customer experience. At CrossFit, members don't come in and individually hit the treadmill or weights like a regular gym. Instead, they are actively engaged with others as they workout with a trainer and a team, and there is a corresponding lesson with the day's workout. All of these elements have become part of the CrossFit brand. At Starbucks, customers are not only drawn to the coffee and treats the retailer serves, but also to the casual atmosphere which encourages relaxing in an arm chair and reading a book while sipping a $7 latte. • A brand is part relationship. Today, elements of a strong brand are moving beyond customer experience to something deeper. What was previously only a transactional relationship between a brand and a customer has become an emotional tie. CrossFit boxes aren't just gyms offering memberships. The space supports a coach and athlete relationship, where the customer feels an emotional connection and loyalty to the business. Each box uses the CrossFit method, but also serves as a gathering place for people who share the same core values. CrossFitters aren't just exercising; they are building relationships with other customers, the business and the brand all at once. The Starbucks brand has achieved a similar status. Instead of speedy transactions similar to what a customer might receive at a fast-food restaurant, purchasing a coffee at Starbucks comes with a social and emotional element. Loyal customers who start every day at their local Starbucks likely have developed relationships with baristas. And on any given day, you're likely to find book clubs and business meetings in the cafe because Starbucks has positioned itself as a dependable community hub. The experiences customers have at a CrossFit box or Starbucks reflect each business's unique core values, mission and promises the companies make that customers can buy into. The Inception of CrossFit CrossFit was an answer to a problem its creator saw in the fitness industry. Founder Greg Glassman wanted to find a better way to conduct training and exercise, which were sometimes considered ineffective, incorrect and even dangerous. His unique approach was built on concepts found in gymnastics, powerlifting, calisthenics and competitiveness. He coined the term WOD (Workout of the Day), which takes a group of people through a workout based on time or how many repetitions athletes can get through, which adds a competitive edge. After CrossFit was born, Glassman offered it to those who wanted to learn this training method and effectively train others. The brand strategy is unconventional, but simple. WODs are posted for free on the CrossFit website, making it widely available for anyone to try. The majority of the revenue comes from licensing fees all affiliates pay to run a CrossFit box and from seminars that better explain and teach the CrossFit method and philosophy. Glassman protects the CrossFit brand at all costs. He's turned down multiple offers to get involved in other healthy lifestyle products because he believes CrossFit is purely about its specific training style, and Glassman wants to keep it that way.

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