When it comes to building a cohesive brand, it is important that any business takes the time to bridge offline and online marketing and branding initiatives in a way that makes users comfortable interacting and buying products or services both on and offline. Making the jump from a brick-and-mortar store to social media platforms and a consistent overall online brand identity can be tricky, but there are many different strategies that can boost online and offline sales by increasing user trust and ease of interaction with a brand. While it might seem simple enough, doing this process correctly can difficult. In order to make it a little easier, let’s take a look at 6 brands that bridge the gap between offline and online brand seamlessly and efficiently in a number of different ways:
If your brand has a number of different locations it can be extremely difficult to tie your social presence to your offline stores to form a coherent brand. However, it isn’t impossible, and the coffee moguls at Starbucks are a great example of how to do it right. They are extremely effective at merging their brick-and-mortar stores and their social media presence largely due to how effectively and prominently they tie location in to their social profiles like Facebook. They feature a “nearby locations” module right on their page that shows users where the closest locations are to them based on geolocation data – making it much easier for users to go out to a nearby store no matter where they might be. They also feature the ability to send, win, and reload Starbucks gift cards right from their page to ensure that online users have constant elements that are pulling them back to their offline stores.
Starbucks also spends a lot of time on their rewards system and they do a great job of making sure it is easy to use both online and offline. It’s a great way to bridge the gap between offline and online because the program is consistent no matter where users are. Things like “Frappyhour” that get interest drummed up online and then re-enforce brand loyalty when people make it to the store are great ways to keep customers coming back over and over. Starbucks centers their social media presence around providing high-quality content that is created by fans and the Starbucks brand alike to help reinforce this loyalty, and it is an extremely efficient way to engage users in a way that builds a community around the Starbucks brand without overtly trying to sell Starbucks products.
If your business has many different locations that are distinctly unique from one another the idea of building a cohesive brand can be even more difficult. Group fitness company SoulCycle is a great example of a brand that faces this problem and solves it by doing a fantastic job of differentiating each location from one another while still having each fall under one branding initiative. They do this by announcing openings of new locations on their social media profiles while also supplying each location’s music playlists in detailed social media posts. They also use video posts to highlight their staff and valued customers (who often include celebrities like Carey Mulligan). Furthermore, they use location-based technology on their website to identify where users are coming from on their website and then quickly and efficiently show users where the nearest SoulCycle location is. As a result, online users have everything they need to make a decision about how they can visit a location, making the decision to go to a location a significantly less stressful one.
SoulCycle leverages the initial user experience in their classes to build brand loyalty once the experience is over by highlighting individual trainers and SoulCycle locations in a way that keeps people coming back for more classes.
Keeping design elements consistent between offline and online channels can be extremely tricky for brands if color schemes or font choices seem odd in the greater context of a social platform. When it comes to the health food space, SweetGreen stands apart by effectively highlighting their stores and keeping branding consistent across both offline and various online channels. This is particularly true with their font, which remains consistent from stores all the way though to their website and social media content.
SweetGreen is also able to make the online ordering process extremely similar to the native offline experience with their mobile and desktop presences to create a familiar experience for online users who have been in stores before. Every ingredient is drilled down to specifics and allows users who are placing an order online to feel like they are ordering in-person at their local neighborhood location. The consistency of the ordering process, both online and offline, makes users feel secure and less likely to balk at placing an order online as opposed to if it was a completely different ordering process depending on channel.
Having social signals about individual products available in-store has long been a dream of brands with successful social media presences, and has finally started to become reality. While it’s not a brand we’re particularly used to seeing in the United States, C&A has a very large presence in both Europe and South America as a consumer merchandise brand and they do a fantastic job of meshing offline and online user experiences together to build consistent branding that actually sells products.
This is particularly true when it comes to the coat hangers they have in their Brazil stores, which show how many users on Facebook have liked the product that is hanging on it. This is a great example of Facebook integration into a brick-and-mortar store, as it directly ties online users into the offline buying experience by leveraging Facebook likes as a part of the offline buyer journey as an extra trust factor. It takes the idea of a celebrity or consumer testimonial and goes a step further by leveraging Facebook seamlessly in a way that helps sell products while also driving offline buyers to C&A’s online Facebook page. It’s little wonder that their Facebook page has amassed well over 6 million likes as a result.
Land Rover is a massive brand and struggles with branding issues due to the variety of different dealerships they have across the world, a problem that many businesses can have - particularly in the high-end luxury good space. However, Land Rover still has coherent brand messaging of sporty yet sexy that is clearly presented on offline and online channels alike. In order to get this idea across even more efficiently, Land Rover leveraged a microsite using Instagram to curate user-generated content.
Known as #wellstored, the site does a great job of marrying the branding that Land Rover has across it’s offline advertisements to tell a story of existing owners to both build brand loyalty and create new sales opportunities. The seamless marriage of social media and a website in order to further branding is impressive and certainly helps create a consistent user experience that builds brand loyalty and makes online users want to go to an offline location to purchase a Land Rover.
Using your employees to build brand recognition is an extremely efficient way to build brand loyalty - both online and offline. A great example of this is Victoria’s Secret, who manage to tie their offline in-store experience back to their online presence mainly by leveraging their brand spokeswomen – their models. They are displayed prominently in-store on billboards, placards, and at their events like the Victoria’s secret fashion show, and they are also featured on the brand's social media accounts and website.
Seeing the same models is a great trust factor to have for shoppers both on and offline and also allows Victoria’s Secret to leverage each model as a brand advocate with relative ease through social media accounts to drive awareness of new sales and giveaways that they might be having. Another great tie in between offline and online sale they have is the unique Pink and Victoria’s Secret brands and the unique landing pages that they've built for each. Each brand has a distinct font style, color scheme, and website page layout, and these accurately reflect the same elements in store through the style and variety of products that are featured on each line.