This year’s top 50 U.S. retail brands – holistic, always open, and customer-centric.

Interbrand has released its 2013 list of the world's Best Retail Brands, and a couple of local retailers continue to climb up the rankings.  Lowe's Home Improvement, a long-time client of our Charlotte marketing agency, sits at #12, thanks to a successful marketing partnership with Houzz (a leading social site for designers and renovators) and the roll-out of in-store Wi-Fi to aid comparison shopping.

Mathews based Family Dollar showed a whopping 17% improvement over last year, according to Interbrand's methodology that measures a brand's financial performance and the strength of the brand. Although these 50 retail leaders span a number of different categories, the share 4 key attributes that help them outperform the competition.

  1. They connect more deeply and meaningfully with customers.
    In the race for relevance, the strongest retail brands relentlessly pursue knowledge about their consumers and incorporate those insights into their everyday behavior. With economic power distributed across an ever growing portfolio of touchpoints, customers – not the brand – set the rules of engagement
     
  2. Speedy decision making helps top brands keep up with the velocious pace of retail.
    The pace of retail and customer expectations continues to increase. To respond, executives need to build cultures, processes and systems that enable quick decisions. This isn’t just about assortment adjustments. It’s about organizational commitment to moving at the speed of the retail world to remain competitive.
     
  3. Every touchpoint is flawlessly aligned to the brand’s goals.
    "Retail" no longer refers to physical stores; it refers to the complete experience created by retail brands – from physical stores to digital touchpoints to service experiences to the product assortment. Retailers witnessing big gains this year are committed to this holistic view of experience. Rather than antiquated methods of maximizing stores at the expense of other channels, top brands think holistically in terms of groups of touchpoints and the optimization of a shopper's experience. 
     
  4. Successful retailers optimize, scale and measure religiously. 
    The most valuable retail brands constantly monitor a customer’s changing needs. Insights can enable optimization and a more efficient scaling of ideas. But it’s not all about customer knowledge. For example, Tiffany & Co., up 15 percent, built its growth on the ability to trial, refine and deploy digital experiences that translate the brand into new and unexpected touchpoints. Measurement and proof of concept still wins. But it takes commitment to make this a part of the routine in retail.

As it comes to a close, 2013 was also an exciting year for our Charlotte-based retail branding agency. birdsong gregory did some strong work for several of the top retail brands on this list, and have some exciting new opportunities going into 2014. As the world of retail continues to evolve, birdsong gregory will continue to help our clients build a retail ecosystem and an overarching brand strategy that extends far beyond the time spent inside a store or searching a website. 

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