Canadian Retailer - Store 2012 - (Page 12)

DIRECTOR’S MESSAGE COMMUNICATIONS: THE FIRST AND LAST LINE OF BRAND PROTECTION BY SALLY RITCHIE, Vice-President, Communications and Marketing, Retail Council of Canada O ne of my favourite episodes of CBC’s television show, The Dragon’s Den, featured a somewhat ludicrously-attired woman with glamourous makeup asking for $200,000 to expand her pampered pet enterprise. “I am the fabulous founder of Fabulous Furballs, a fabulous pet empire,” said Krista Castellarin, who was wearing a layered, tutu-like cocktail dress and towering hot pink heels. She was accompanied by her catgrooming husband, Mr. Meow, and a white Persian cat with a floppy Mohawk hair style. Also in tow: a Chihuahua sporting a chic ensemble and shiny pink nailpolish. The team was rounded out by an attractive but business-attired franchise owner, who had a rather ordinary dog with her. Despite the owner’s absurd appearance, her pitch was excellent — to the point and polished. The successful, well-planned company had three distinct businesses: a line of specialty pet “beauty” products; a school which taught pet-grooming, with a focus on cat-grooming; and a franchised pet boutique and spa. The frivolous appeal of the brand was communicated instantly. But so was its success and core business proposition. Break this down into a media release and the communications value is clear: snazzy, attention-grabbing lede, right-to-the-point delivery of facts, lots of quotable quotes and excellent branding. By the end of the episode, the Drag- ons were bidding with each other for the privilege of giving this woman money. This was a terrific demonstration of very good external communications. The brand’s identity was cemented in the viewer’s mind, delivering the right message to potential customers: “Let us provide over-the-top luxury and pampering for your special and adored pet.” And the subtextual message for the Dragons: “We might look over-the-top, but that is a reflection of our business acumen. Glamour for pets might sound nuts, but those pampered paws pay, big time.” Good external communications involve building your brand identity. This requires rigorous consistency and focus. It means knowing who you are and what you do, knowing how to project that, and protecting your brand relentlessly. “It takes 20 years to build a reputation and 5 minutes to ruin it. If you think about that, you'll do things differently,” is an oft-quoted nugget from Warren Buffett. But it’s quoted so much because it sums up the horrors of not protecting your brand – one slip can undo years of painstaking efforts. Ask any politician whose misstep ended his or her career. In any business, in particular retail, the critical partner of external communications is internal communications. One cannot succeed without the other, because every employee is a brand manager. The franchisee from Fabulous Furballs was able to deliver the elevator speech flawlessly and with convic- tion. This was because internal communications had been done properly: every employee must know the company’s goals and the blueprint for reaching them. Buy-in is essential: staff must also know that their contributions are vital to the company’s success… even if your staff member happens to be a Chihauhua with a great pedicure. Sally Ritchie is RCC's Vice President of Communications and Marketing. She oversees all aspects of the association's external and internal communications, including media relations, public relations and social media. Most importantly, she manages communications with RCC members via email notices and alerts, a weekly e-newsletter and website. Contact Sally at (416) 922-6678, ext. 228, or via email at sallyritchie@retailcouncil.org. 12 | canadian retailer | store 2012 | www.retailcouncil.org/cdnretailer http://www.retailcouncil.org/cdnretailer

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Canadian Retailer - Store 2012

PUBLISHER’S DESK
SHOP TALK
DIRECTOR'S MESSAGE
TALKING TO CUSTOMERS
PEOPLE: THE WINNING RETAIL INGREDIENT
COMMITMENT TO CUSTOMER – KEY TO GROCER’S SUCCESS
CUCKOO FOR THE COMMUNITY
RETAILER’S GUIDE
ENGAGEMENT AND THE POWER OF RETAIL
STRENGTHENING THE APPEAL OF RETAIL AS A CAREER
INDEPENDENT CHALLENGES MET WITH INDEPENDENT SESSIONS
RETAIL EXCELLENCE HONOURED
ADVERTISERS’ INDEX
RETAIL BY THE NUMBERS

Canadian Retailer - Store 2012

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