There’s no doubt that national restaurant chains, big box retailers, and online superstores will win on price. If independent businesses are going to be successful in carving out their piece of the pie, it will be on their own brand merits, and these have nothing to do with emulating the “big boys.”
What can independent businesses offer that large chains can’t? Individuality. Successful independent businesses don’t emulate, they differentiate. They do this by offering unique products, services and experiences. Brand identity is a huge part of experience differentiation, and gift card design is a huge part of brand identity. But it’s not just gift card design that captures the essence of your brand, it’s interior design, logo, signage, employee apparel and, most importantly, customer interaction.
The reason gift card design plays such an important role is because gift cards are often the very first introduction to your brand. They are a taste of what’s in store for the gift card holder. Before consumers become your customers, they must make the decision, consciously or otherwise, that your brand has value, and gift card design can help push them in that direction.
Why are some consumers willing to pay more for a bracelet on Etsy than one they might find at Target? Why are microbreweries dotting the landscape and IPAs the darling of the beer world? Because these products are hand crafted.
Consumers equate hand crafted with quality, and will pay for that quality. If you’re an independent business, your brand must also be hand crafted, extending from the uniqueness of your products to the specialized services you offer to your personal interactions with customers to your look, feel and, of course, your gift card design.
When independent businesses embrace being small and personal over generic and ubiquitous, they are hand crafting their brand, and hand-crafted brands are valued by consumers for not being major players. Hand-crafted brands choose intimacy over conformity, engaging consumers on a personal level with experiences that can’t be replicated by the “big boys.”