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Framing Your Brand The Ikea Way

You don’t need to be a multi-million dollar corporation to do what IKEA does really well. In fact it’s probably easier to implement some IKEA-think into your business if you don’t own a huge factory.

Sure IKEA might be an iconic brand but it’s not their size, their logo or their buying power that keeps us coming back. What is it that makes IKEA so irresistible to the millions of people who shop there every week? What makes them the biggest furniture retailer in the world?

The fact is the IKEA isn’t actually in the furniture business, they are in the aspiration business. They sell us a story that we want to believe. It’s a story about ‘loving where we live’ (even if that happens to be a back of beyond bedsit) and ‘making space for the things that matter’.

What’s amazing is that this huge, slightly irreverent brand seems to understand us. They know that our dreams are the oxygen of any shopping experience. Not only do they allow us to dream but they positively encourage it. Their room displays say: “This could be your place. Take your time, wander through, let the kids jump on our sofa’s, make yourself at home.”

So how does IKEA frame their brand story in a way that makes us want to keep coming back?

They start by telling us the truth.
This stuff isn’t going to last forever but it looks good and it’s affordable.

They walk in our shoes and anticipate how we are going to feel at every stage of the experience.
The store is out of town and we have to make a day trip. No problem they have a cafe which opens early. They understand that harassed parents means shopping hell, so they try to create shopping heaven with free childcare, reasonably priced food, toys you can touch and games consoles. And yes they know we hate queues and it’s been a long day but hey, the cheap hot dog is visible from the checkout so we’ve got something to look forward to.

IKEA speaks in our language.
There’s no jargon and no hype in their marketing. “Love where you live.” They make it about us not them…..this is how and where our stuff might fit into your life.

They give us what we want because they know how we live.
You’ve got a problem (too much stuff), we’ve got the solution (somewhere attractive to hide it).

They understand what we’ll need before we’ve worked it out for ourselves.
Food at the beginning, childcare and snacks. Loading bays and roof racks at the end.

IKEA sells us things we can’t get anywhere else.
Unless it’s another IKEA store.

There are no pushy sales people, they allow the products to tell the story.
We’ve got time to think, space to decide and we can work out where the product fits into our story.

They create an experience we can’t get anywhere else.
The store layout is a journey and everything form the meatballs to Småland feels out of our ordinary, like another world.

Anyone can take some or all of these elements and successfully apply them to their brand. It doesn’t matter if you’re a solo entrepreneur selling hand crafted jewellery, a software designer or a cafe owner.

How could you make a hot dog a brand icon? How are you framing your brand?

Image by Aeternitas.