Is This Still Your Father’s Camera Store?

Is This Still Your Father’s Camera Store?


Remember the Oldsmobile brand? For years it was one of the stalwart brands in the General Motors line. It stood for power, durability and reliability. It was what everyone’s father and grandfather was driving in the 1970s.

Then, around 1985, the brand managers at Oldsmobile decided they had to reposition their brand, so they started running a broad advertising campaign around the theme “This is not your father’s Oldsmobile.” They used celebrities like Ringo Starr and William Shatner driving around with their daughters, with the kids proclaiming their love for the “new” Oldsmobile. It was one of the most memorable campaigns in the 1980s.

The advertising may have been new and fresh, but the car itself never really changed. So where is the Oldsmobile brand today? In that great car junk pile in the sky, along with the Ford Pinto and the gas-guzzling Hummer.

So what does this have to do with camera retailers? Plenty.

In case you haven’t noticed, your camera store is a brand. Just like Oldsmobile and Pontiac, your brand most likely holds a position in your customers’ minds. You might stand for high quality, or great customer service. It might be your outstanding pricing, or your customer loyalty programs. Everything you do affects the standing of your brand, especially with your loyal, existing customers.

Also, in case you haven’t noticed, the world is changing faster than you can say “Facebook status.” Today’s digital customers are less likely to visit your store but twice as likely to tweet about it. They have more options than ever before, and they’re taking advantage of them. In short, their world has changed, which should be forcing you to examine your own world.

As a retailer and as a marketer, you have to take a good, long look at your brand every once in a while, and make sure you’re still relevant. Does your store look the same as it did in 1985? Is the look of your logo dated? Have you responded quickly enough to the changes in the market? Are you a “digital” brand, or are you still stuck in the analog world?

The fundamental question to ask yourself is, “Is my store still relevant to the customers I want to attract?” Or are you still your father’s camera store?

Brand repositioning is not always easy, and it’s not a quick fix. It’s much more than just a logo change and a fresh coat of paint. In order to truly reposition your brand, you have to change perceptions in people’s minds. That’s not an easy thing to do.

The passing of Steve Jobs a few weeks ago brings to light his brilliance not only in product design but also in retail design. He single-handedly changed the model of what the “next generation” is looking for in a retail environment. His stores are clean and organized. His inventory is never, ever out of place. His Genius Bar is, well, genius. And his focus on customer service has, for better or worse, repositioned the expectations of what the next generation expects.

So, let’s get back to your store for a moment: ask yourself a few questions.

Are you still just a camera store, or are you a destination of knowledge and service that people need today to figure out how to manage their digital media?

Your loyal customers are probably the same people they were 10 years ago, but are you still relevant to the next generation of consumers?

If you were to ask what year best represents your brand, would it be 1980, 1995 or 2012?

You may be managing your retail store, but are you also managing your brand?

The repositioning of a brand has as much to do with your competition as it does with your own brand. So, draw yourself a perceptual map and see where you land on it. Then see where all of the competitors in your market land on the map. And ask yourself where you should be on the map.

Once you’ve identified the unique position of your brand on the perceptual map, you should develop a roadmap to get there.

Is it as simple as a logo change? Probably not. It’s about your advertising, your product selection, your employees, your training, your pricing, your promotions. The look and feel of your retail environment. Your Facebook page and your Twitter account. And your commitment to adapting, while still keeping the core of what is good about your brand.

Some of you may already be there, but for those for whom this article may be hitting home, it’s never too late to build your brand to stay relevant in the digital world.

In addition to his day job, Jerry Grossman is an adjunct professor at the St. Joseph’s College Graduate Management Program, where he teaches courses in Marketing Strategies and Concepts.