By Ali Cudby
Branding is a lingerie store’s greatest opportunity to create the go-to experience every retailer wants its customers to enjoy. It is also one of the greatest challenges in building a successful business. Too many stores lose customers – and sales – by having branding that misses the mark.
Here in Retail Briefs we will be examining branding in a series of articles to give you the tools you need to boost your branding – and ultimately your bottom line – right along with your customers’ busts.
Branding, at its core, is your promise to your customers. How you get there means constructing a holistic, consistent manifestation of your products and services, keeping your target customers in mind. That’s a mouthful, and a lot of work.
While we will focus the series on the retail experience, to start things off, Ellen Lewis – founder of Lingerie Briefs – and I chatted about the essence of branding her Lingerie Briefs column.
According to Ellen, Lingerie Briefs was conceived as a place where retailers and manufacturers could see Ellen’s perspective of what a boutique should be. Ellen worked from an expertise in buying and merchandising that took decades to build. The site is geared toward Better products and Ellen’s own taste level. That’s not to say the manufacturers and stores featured on the site have anything to do with what fits Ellen’s body or even her personal aesthetic.
Rather, Lingerie Briefs is written against the message of lingerie as poetry in a woman’s wardrobe. The target is intelligent, quality-oriented, and beautiful. It is sexy, but not overtly sex.
So what is sexy, according to Lingerie Briefs? “In my opinion, Sexy is the ability to provoke desire without demanding it,” says Lewis. “Apple products are sexy. Television’s Mad Men is sexy. Cate Blanchett is sexy. I believe that lingerie should add class and sass to a woman’s persona. It is an ingredient of empowerment in a woman’s wardrobe.”
You see that voice in the Lingerie Briefs columns consistently. Ellen often references the arts and other markers of more highbrow cultural touchstones. She always loops her columns back to being inspirational and product driven for the Better lingerie retailer and the products they stock.
From that perspective, the Lingerie Briefs column provides the holistic, consistent and customer-targeted messaging that branding is all about.
Going forward, we’ll take a deeper dive – looking at companies both inside and outside lingerie to drive those branding lessons home. By the end of this series, you’ll have the tools you need to assess your own store and its branding to determine what you’re doing well, and how you can improve your company’s branding going forward. (This article also appears in Ali’s blog ‘Fab Foundations’)