The Target Brand: A Story of Successful Collaboration

From an honest perspective, Target should be lumped into the same category as Wal-Mart.  Both retailers are mass-merchants selling everything from stereo systems to avocados.  However, Target manages to escape just about all of the hate groups and disparaging comments that land upon Wal-Mart.  What gives?

Collaborative Spirit

For starters, Target advertises like no other.  Scroll down to “lesson number four” in this blog post featuring Target creative director Tim Murray.  Murray places a huge emphasis on the importance of collaboration in the Target brand.  The brand’s collaborative spirit came to fruition with the creation of the Target Kaleidoscope Fashion Spectacular in 2010, a mixed media, live performance that transformed all the rooms of an entire face of the Standard hotel in New York into a performance space.  Be sure to check out the video at the link!

Murray estimates that the performance and video have made “180 million media impressions.”  Of course, that figure should be even higher today, nearly one year after that comment was made.

Target’s collaborative spirit is in everything they do.  Instead of doing all of the design, branding, and other creative work in-house, Target works with different agencies on their content development.  Many of those agencies are competitors, too.  However, for Target, they’re willing to work together.  In the same blog post, Murray reports that he oversees 10 agencies, 4 digital partners, and 3 branding studios.  Talk about management!

These kinds of collaboration-oriented business tactics could mean disaster for many companies.  However, Target has great measures in place to promote communication and effective teamwork so that projects stay on focus and the brand is continually prioritized.

Limited Offerings

The Target brand has also enjoyed tremendous success because they do a great job of limiting their offerings – despite being a mass retailer.  Target is known for frequently inviting top-tier designers to collaborate on fashion collections that are exclusively available in the retail stores.  The products are fashionable, popular, and affordable.  But, more importantly, they’re limited.  Who’s ever had to worry about Wal-Mart running out of a certain product?

Last September, Target’s website crashed because of high demand for their Missoni-designed clothing and products.  Though the website crash was somewhat embarrassing for the under-prepared retail giant, it speaks volumes about Target’s success in collaborating with designers.  Subsequent collaborations have launched with plenty of servers to meet demand.  Mastering some technical business tactics just takes a little bit of live-and-learn!

The Retail Store Makes Sense

Not only are the brand’s products and advertisements aesthetically pleasing, but Target also focuses on creating a fun and intuitive shopping experience that considers the customer’s needs.  By placing departments that overlap in similarities near each other, Target puts customers at ease.  When you step into one of their retail stores, you shouldn’t have too much trouble finding exactly what you’re looking for.

And, if you do have any trouble, Target is known for being well staffed.  This factor has worked wonders in bolstering Target’s brand image – especially when compared to other mass merchant retailers (*cough* Wal-Mart).  Perhaps the brick-and-mortar retail experience is the closest thing you can get to Apple for a mass merchant retailer, which should come as no surprise since the two are teaming up.

It’s Working for Target…

… why not for you?  The Target brand has enjoyed tremendous success because of business tactics that are focused on collaborating with top-notch, quality partners in both marketing and retail areas.  Furthermore, logical development of retail spaces, and their customer-friendly approach has won them many successes throughout the years.

What will you take from Target, and apply to your business?  What do you see as being integral to the Target brand’s success over the last few years?

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Ben Richardson is a writer based in Nashville, TN. While he loves writing on a variety of subjects, he's our go-to on all things related to branding and the creative aspects of content marketing. Follow him on Twitter!

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