Defining your retail image


A store’s atmosphere plays a huge role in its success. Your store is the space within to portray your retail image and create your customer experience, which is the most important element of retail today. You cannot control your brand 100%, but you can have a bold mission statement and unique concept description for your business that leads you to have an inspiring store.



The sum of your customers’ experiences translates to your brand.


Your store’s atmosphere is shaped by layering physical and intangible elements that should promote not only the product range you offer, but also the business’ mission statement.

Your store's atmosphere
The physical elements include: the storefront (signage, entrance, windows), the interior finishes, the cash wrap, product fixtures, signage and graphics, lighting, and props. Then, there are the intangible elements such as the lighting ambience, layout of the store, display techniques, communication strategies, use of colour, and inclusion of music and scent. Social media presence should be cohesive to the aesthetic and messages that the physical store presents.


What do you want your customers to remember?

A well-defined mission statement and concept description narrows in on the keywords that truly represent what your business is about, and how you stand out from the competition. Your concept keywords can serve as your primary reference when making retail aesthetic decisions, as well as considering what products and messages you should highlight in your store. For example, if part of your concept description is about supporting local, or carrying cruelty-free products, then you should incorporate those products and messages into prime retail sightlines. Patrons who relate to those values begin aligning with your brand. Appealing to the emotional side of your customer creates added value and increases their purchase satisfaction, resulting in increased and repeat sales.

Visually communicate your retail strategy.

Is your offer superior in price, product selection, or service? This should influence how you display and sign your merchandise, which further supports your retail image. For example, if you are a price superior retailer, you will emphasize price on your signage. If you are a product superior retailer, then you emphasize product features and benefits instead of the price. If you are service superior, then you may choose to limit signage altogether to encourage interaction. The statistic of the 80/20 principle is that 80% of your sales comes from 20% of your customers, so you really want to pinpoint those messages that resonate with your target market! Completing an online VALS Survey (Values and Lifestyle) can enlighten you as to the many angles of messaging that consumers are looking for when considering a purchase.


Authenticity is key.

There are many design options that a retailer is faced with at a store. Knowing your mission statement and concept description through and through will provide solid ground from which to formulate a lean and successful visual communication approach that translates into a retail image that meets its concept.




You’re invited to learn how to present your store’s environment effectively at Lauren’s Designing Your Retail Image seminar. Join her at the Alberta Gift Fair on Sunday, August 26 from 10 – 11 a.m. in the Retail Resource Centre Hall FGH.

Lauren Whitaker