4 Subtle Branding Opportunities for Retailers

by Dhiren Bhatia / November 19, 2018

Brick-and-mortar retailers have had to change a lot about how they operate in recent years.

Today, it’s not enough to just have a good selection of items in stock and keep your store clean and presentable. Consumers are starting to increasingly rely on online shopping to find and purchase for their basic needs.

If you want your retail space to continue to be profitable, you need to offer potential customers something special — something more than they can get from a few clicks online.

You need to entice them through your doors with the promise of a special experience.

In fact, many retailers have actually shifted the focus of their retail stores from moving product toward connecting with their customers in a more meaningful way. They can use retail spaces in new ways that make their retail locations more interesting, interactive, and fun. Some are repurposing their spaces to let customers try their products out or experience their brand through interactive technology.

But regardless of whether you’re still focusing on sales, it’s more important than ever to pay attention to subtle details in your store that can make or break the “feeling” of a shopping experience.

Of course, the more obvious ways to do this are with your choices of products and services, and the layout of the store. But the following, less obvious details can also add to (or detract from) the shoppers’ overall experience.


Consider being a little more thoughtful about which words and designs you use to direct your clients throughout the store.

The store’s primary signs are the most prominent signs you’ll need, of course. They play an important role in getting customers to notice and recognize your brand.

But the more subtle branding opportunities come with the other signs in your store, such as the ones on front door that list the operating hours, the signs that indicate where to check out and make returns, and even the signs in dressing rooms that warn of the penalties of shoplifting.

The signs don’t have to be particularly funny or clever, but a unique branded twist can add to the shopping experience.

For example, instead of posting a generic “You break it, you buy it” sign, a classier option could be “Please ask for assistance in handling these fragile items” or “Our experts will be happy to assist you in handling these valuable items.”

Instead of “All children must be supervised,” some shops have posted a joke: “All unsupervised children will be given an espresso and a free puppy.” This might work for your shop if you’re going for a local, quirky vibe.

If you’re wondering whether a certain sign is a good fit for your brand, imagine your employees saying it out loud to a customer. For example, a “Come right on in!” sign might be a nice touch compared to a generic “open” sign, but only if your want your brand to come across as friendly and casual.

Word choice is just the first step. Hiring a graphic designer to create signage that matches the rest of your brand’s colors, fonts and styles will show that you care about the details of your customers’ shopping experiences.


We all know how it feels to walk into a completely silent store. It can seem a little eerie, or like something is just “off.”

The most obvious solution to this problem is to play music.

Music can do much more than eliminate awkward silences. It also can evoke certain emotions, build a sense of energy, and play a key role in creating the right shopping environment.

To find the right type of music for your brand, you’ll need to figure out which type of music resonates with your target audience, sends the right message about your brand, and influences customer behavior in a positive way.

For example, studies have shown that music with a slower tempo and a minor key can encourage shoppers to slow down and relax a bit, which can lead to increased time in your store and increased sales.

But if your brand is vibrant, upbeat and fun, you’ll still want to opt for choose fast-paced and fun music.  And if you’re trying to appeal to a more mature audience, skip the teen pop songs, regardless of what your personal preferences are.

Carefully compile playlists that reflect your brand’s values and make sure that employees know that they’re not to play the music that they personally like, which can turn off customers.

Remember, you’ll need a business license to play music in your store (using your personal music streaming account is a violation).


Has a certain scent ever instantly transported you back in time to a vivid memory or feeling?

Odds are you’ve experienced this because our sense of smell plays a unique role in our memory processing.

Scientists think it’s due to the way our brains are structured. The signals from all of our other senses (sight, touch, hearing, and taste) make a stop in the thalamus before they’re sent over to the other parts of the brain for processing. But signals from the olfactory bulb (the part of the brain that processes smell) are sent directly to the amygdala and hippocampus, which are responsible for processing emotions and memories.

(For more on how the sense of smell works, check out this Psychology Today article.)

All of that is to say that adding the right fragrance to your retail space can go a long way toward making your store feel more inviting to customers.

For example, stores that specialize in selling items for the winter holidays may scent the air with the smells of cinnamon and pine. Swimwear stores may opt for fresh citrus or floral scents to evoke the feeling of a bright, warm day.

Or, you can come up with a signature scent with elements that embody your brand and make your store smell the same way consistently, which will get people to associate the scent with your store and your brand, and the experience they have while shopping.

Adding fragrance to your store is one of the simplest and most affordable ways to make it more inviting.

Checkout Hardware

The hardware that your customers interact with as they check out may seem like a small detail. However, there are a plenty of ways that the wrong point of sale system hardware can hurt your brand image.

We’ve all encountered a faulty credit card reader or a faulty electronic signature pad, for example. These annoyances can have a negative effect on what could have otherwise been a simple and pleasant interaction. And because checking out is the last thing customers do in their experience with your store, those annoyances can damage their view of the entire visit.

Invest in a system that makes checking out quick and pleasant is a no-brainer. But some of the most modern equipment and programs available today take it a step further. They are so sleek and intuitive that customers leave the store feeling pleasantly surprised and impressed.

Investing in one of these top-of-the-line point-of-sale systems can impress customers by making the check-out process clean and pleasant, but it does much more.

The best programs sync up to the cloud so that managers can easily access their information from anywhere. They also integrate with accounting, inventory, and even marketing (integrating features such as loyalty programs and customer relationship management) to form solutions that can run the entire back end of a retail business.

If you’re looking for modern software solutions for your store that were designed to improve customer experience, please contact us at Cloudscape Technologies. There are many powerful web-based software solutions available for today’s retailers. We empower business owners to find solutions that work for them. We work to get these systems up and running so that business owners can keep focusing on their businesses.

We are happy to offer you a free consultation. Click here and book one today.

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