Updated: Jan 11
People buy from people… not robot-sounding employees! Never considered personal branding for your retail staff? Or, worse, have you been forcing them to stick to a rigid script?
Then your stores have been missing out on developing your shop floor staff’s potential, delivering personalised, memorable customer service, and converting more sales while improving the sentiment around your brand.
Here’s why and what you can do about it.
What is personal branding?
Personal branding simply consists of individuals marketing both themselves and their career as you’d market a traditional brand.
Depending on the industry and an individual’s goals, this can mean identifying what sets them apart from others, ensuring that their values come across when interacting with people, or even developing an entire online presence that reflects their personal brand.
We’re used to thinking of this self-packaging approach for entrepreneurs and famous personalities, but I firmly believe that it’s also the future for ambitious employees in a variety of industries, and retail is no exception.
What is an example of a personal brand?
I promise you that you actually come across personal brands on a daily basis—from LinkedIn to online articles and on the TV—such as Marie Kondo, Elon Musk, or Donald Miller, just to name a few examples.
These are all people with such a clearly defined digital footprint and values that, when you hear about them for a second time, you immediately remember what they stand for.
Some examples of successful personal brands in retail are Mark Parker, the innovative CEO of Nike, and Jo Whitfield, CEO of Co-op Food.
Now that we’ve clarified its meaning, let’s see why personal branding can make such a big difference in our industry and… your own shop floor.
4 game-changing benefits of personal branding in retail
To me, personal branding in retail is the opposite of outdated scripted approaches.
I understand that, if your company uses them, it’s because you want to ensure that every customer gets the exact same experience and can expect consistency.
Unfortunately, however, the end result is much different. It’s bland, predictable, and therefore… forgettable.
A customer experience differs city to city and certainly country to country. Scripting service for an urban city demographic in the UK will not serve a local community in say, Turkey or Kuwait.
Allowing and actively helping your retail staff develop their personal brands, on the other hand, comes with a ton of benefits.
1. Personal branding for retail staff translates into an unforgettable experience for your customers
Remember what we said earlier: people buy from people.
The retail sector has the luxury of relying on this very premise when it comes to in-store experiences… and yet many managers end up minimising it by resorting to scripted alternatives!
When you help each of your employees develop their own personal brand in retail, however, their unique personality will shine.
They’ll be able to be their authentic selves, building trust and connecting with your customers on a personal, human level. This will also bring out some excellent customer service that isn’t restricted by set phrases.
Isn’t that a much better experience for your customers? And don’t forget that such a happy customer is basically a brand ambassador for your company.
2. It also allows your staff members to adapt their approach to different customers
Your employees should read customers, not scripts!
Allowing them more flexibility to be themselves will also mean that they can tailor their approach to different customers depending on their vibes, mood, and needs.
This will optimise your chances of conversions instead of compromising them—yes, that’s what cookie-cutter scripts tend to do.
3. Personal brands in retail create a strong and ambitious team
Unfortunately, our industry is often frowned upon as a career, has one of the high turnover rates, and is seen as uninspiring… but that’s mainly because certain managers and stores make it so.
Let’s be honest: who would actually want to develop a career for a retail company that expects you to say the same things over and over for years like a corporate parrot?
This only leads to interchangeable and unpromotable staff members who are just doing the bare minimum and lack inspiration.
Developing a personal brand in retail, on the other hand, promotes enthusiasm and ambition.
But what does this mean for you and your company?
Easy: you’ll get a much stronger team that’s actually passionate about what they do. When it comes to looking for a new team leader or manager for your branches, you’ll be spoiled with choices.
4. They will reinforce your brand, not compromise it
One of the objections that I hear the most when talking about personal branding in retail is ‘But Kayleigh, this will mean that their interactions with customers are going to be off-brand!’
I can see why you’d think that to begin with, but let me reassure you: that’s not the case at all.
A personal brand in retail isn’t meant to be larger or incompatible with that of the company that an employee represents. On the contrary, it’s meant to complement it.
For example, you can still give your shop floor some starting points and directions or inform them as to specific words or phrases that they should never use with customers.
Just… not an entire script!
How to help your shop floor staff develop some personal branding in retail
The key is to encourage your team members to focus on what makes them sparkle and stand out.
Here are some starting points that you can ask them to think about:
What are your values, and what motivates you the most at work?
What do you like the most about yourself?
What do you get complimented on the most?
What unique experiences have shaped you into the person you are today?
What are your strengths and weaknesses?
Why are you passionate about this specific industry?
Most importantly, you must let them know that, as their manager or employer, you want them to develop a personal brand.
Encourage them to let their real personalities shine when they’re on the shop floor.
In fact, why not think of it as a very special stage, one where they get to be their most authentic selves?
For your most ambitious employees who are particularly passionate about your overall industry, personal branding in retail can go one step further: recommend that they start developing their personal brand online too, using socials (especially LinkedIn) and perhaps having a blog.
Personal branding for retail staff: discover our tailored workshops
Need a hand taking your shop floor staff from script-following robots to ambitious team members with a personal brand that shines?
At The International Retail Academy, we have over twenty years of experience in this bustling industry.