14 Branding Terms For Pet Stores to Know Before They Lose To Chewy

Read Time: 5 minutes

If your business is contingent on creating or maintaining a loyal repeat business than you should continue reading.  How can a business like mine use “branding” to potentially stop companies like Chewy and Amazon from eating away at my profits and customer base? What is Branding/ why should I care? What are some things I should know before I start branding? How can I start branding if I don’t have a lot of money?  All of this and more will be talked about today, in the third installment of this series. 

If you missed last week’s article, Don’t Lose to Chewy: 13 Best Marketing Tricks You Need to Know Now, have no fear, you can always read that one next, although I highly recommend doing so it’s not necessary to gain insight from our topic today.

1. What is Branding, & Why Should I Care?

It’s not very often I find a noun in which all of its meanings better encompass its definition than any particular term. It’s a true depiction of the whole being greater than the sum of its parts.  So rather than list out the definitions you can easily read below, I shall combine them into a single one so you can see what I mean.  Branding: The action of distinctly marking a product to have it stand out from the rest.  This should be followed by a promotion of a particular product through marketing using distinct wording and design.  Thus increasing the demand for your product while reducing the desire for a competitive product.  Basically, it means using the same words, phrases, designs, etc. to make your products look good and others not as good.  So now you may be asking “Why on earth should this matter to me?” & the answer is simple.  “Brands” allow you to set higher prices for your products and services because they trust your “Brand.” The “Brand” does both, makes & keeps promises.

In a nutshell, by building your Brand, you will be able to increase your revenue, by decreasing the costs of each sale & by increasing the profit on each transaction.  Furthermore, by building your brand you could sell more thus increasing the amount you order which decreases the costs of ordering.  The more people use Amazon and Chewy the more they will trust them, instead of you.  In essence, if you don’t start branding, you can only lose market share. 

2. 4 things to know before you start branding?

  1. Write your brand copy before you start your direct marketing, store design, or even make decisions on your POS.  According to BIzfluent.com, a Brand copy is the written equivalent of a company logo and the associated design standards. It communicates the personality and qualities of a product or service to customers and prospects.  I can call fifty pet stores today that couldn’t tell me their brand copy.  What’s even more unfortunate is that many of them are already spending a small fortune on commercials, loyalty programs, and software that wouldn’t fit their brand copy, even if they wrote it tomorrow. 

2. Don’t speak AT ME, speak TO ME.  You need to ask yourself, “What am I really selling?” Are you selling dog grooming or are you selling the pride of winning a gold medal at next week’s Wiener Dog Appreciation Festival?   Are you selling baby powder, or are you selling comfort and safety to the most important thing in my life?  PS: I tried to find Johnson’s Baby Powder image in English, but I couldn’t.  According to Google Translate, it means, “Because your baby is the most important.” 

3. What’s your Why? According to Simon Sinek, “People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it.” According to Wikipedia Simon is a British-American author, motivational speaker, and organizational consultant. He is the author of five books, including Start with Why.  So, look at your sales process, and determine where you can add more humanity back into your business, by doing so you can highlight your humanity. 

4. Repetition and Continuity are required to build a successful brand.  This will not be something you can only do and say once.  You should put it on your receipt, have signage for it on the wall, make employees remember and use it whenever applicable.  Add it to your email signature.  You need your customers to be able to say it when they think about your store.  They should even feel it when they think about you.  This is going to be how they think about YOU instead of CHEWY when its time to buy new dog food. 

3. What are examples of Free and Low-Cost Branding?

In order to really keep Chewy and Amazon out of your customer base, you need to be able to offer products and services that they just can’t do.  According to an article, The New Industrial Revolution providing niche services was almost required for small businesses to survive the technological advancements of previous generations. So below are just a few ways some of my customers have become a cornerstone of their customer’s communities. 

a. Their POS gives their customers the ability to donate their loyalty points to a good cause aka the nearest shelter.

b. Their POS allows the customer to round up to the nearest dollar to donate the change to local causes and shelters.

c. They offer the ability to bring in your own animal and wash them yourself.  They just rent out the bay.

d. Their POS allows them to automate the Astro Bag Loyalty Program, so customers can know when they buy exactly how many bags left for their free bag.

e. Allowing and marketing a shelter to bring animals that need a good home on Saturdays. 

f. Reminding customers when their pets’ shots are due, or when their filters should be replaced. 

g. Offering free classes to pet owners who register their pets for the first time with your store. 

4. How can a business like mine use “branding” to potentially stop companies like Chewy and Amazon from eating away at my profits or customer base?

According to How to Win Against Amazon; 4 Steps Retail Stores Need to Take Today The reason Amazon and Chewy are taking people’s customers in the first place is simple.  They have the inventory, they offer convenience, and they can do so for less.  But one thing is absolutely for certain, they will never be able to compete with your humanity.  So it’s reasonable to assume, in order to potentially stop Amazon and Chewy from stealing your customers and eating away at your profits you NEED to build a brand that draws on your humanity and the humanity of your customers.  Make sure your customers understand your “Why,” and know exactly what you are really selling **insert their desire**. By doing so you can sell your products for more which is almost a need as the prices Amazon and Chewy sell their products for tend to be less than what you can pay for them.  Finally, don’t be afraid to ask some of your customers what their number one reason for shopping from you is.  You might be surprised by their answer. 

That’s all I have for you today. Join us next time for the exciting conclusion to the Targeted Marketing vs. Branding series.  In it, we shall sum up the last three articles and provide correlations and advice on what to do next. 


Mark Nelms is a Business Development Manager for Pet Rewards POS.  He has conducted over 400 interviews with retailers from almost every vertical and size.  In prior roles, he’s assisted clients like Cumberland Packaging Corporation (Sweet N’ Low), The New England Patriots, and NCR (National Cash Register.)


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