I like going to Costco. Free food samples, good prices on good products, a frequently changing selection, interesting people-watching, and the occasional I’ve-got-to-get-this-today-because-I-know-it-won’t-be-here-tomorrow deal. I’ve bought eyeglasses at Costco. Discounted movie tickets and spa packages. And 16 year-old Scotch and fresh flowers, too.

It’s big. It’s not too crowded (except on weekends). And there’s something very “I’ve just robbed the bank”-ish about walking out with a 52 pound bag of dog food and having paid what a 25 pound bag would cost at a regular grocery store.

There are at least a dozen other reasons to like Costco. And, for me, it all fits into a singular image of this: selection (not the widest but enough for me most of the time) and value in a no-frills-but-enjoyable shopping experience.

I suspect most loyal Costo customers have the same image. And I suspect the good folks at Costco planned for this image to take root by very deliberately mapping out their brand identity platform, and then executing it to near perfection through their various brand touch points. 

By developing their brand identity, Costco management also clearly defined several things they are not. Service is not their strong point. Neither is product selection. Elegant ambiance is another thing Costo leaves to other retailers. A limited number of locations is OK by them. Product displays are a secondary consideration to functional stocking logistics. All these possible negatives, and more, are just fine with Costco. Because none of them are a part of the brand identity they developed.

Though Costco is unabashedly not all things to all people, they somehow manage to accommodate a very large number of disparate customer groups.

Simply, Costco operates in a manner which is completely synchronized with their strategically-developed brand identity. Their customers come to Costco for the right reasons — the reasons Costco itself has identified and communicated via their brand touch points — and rarely leave disillusioned. And business is very good for Costco.

Yes, your business is completely different from Costco’s. But you can take away at least this from the Costco model: it’s ok to remain true to your brand identity and eschew the notion of being all things to all people. It’s not a bad way to run a successful business, as the folks at Costco know.

Need help creating your own distinctive brand identity, where you aren’t trying (and failing) to be all things to all people?  We can help, right here at 34 North.