Our work for Smyths
Smyths Toys has real heritage having started as a family-run newsagents in Claremorris, County Mayo, almost 100 years ago. When we began working with Smyths in 2005 they were already the leading toy retailer in the Irish market. They have since expanded into the UK where they now have 64 stores.
We were first appointed to conduct a full brand audit and brand development strategy development. This was prompted by the need to evolve the existing brand to protect its competitive positioning in an increasingly saturated toy and game market. The sector faced many challenges—fluctuating birth rates, ever-increasing pressures on children’s spare time and the fact that children are progressing through childhood faster than ever—as well as pressure on margins brought about by increased competition.
Our audit included a review of Smyths’ customer experience and a critique of their in-store, online and printed communications. This included nationwide focus groups with parents and children, in-store visits with children, exit surveys with customers and key interviews with industry influences to gain an insight into perceptions of Smyths. We visited Smyths and competitor stores, and carried out a visual audit of all marketing collateral to assess the alignment of Smyths brand communications with the actual in-store experience.
Research findings highlighted that the name and brand mark should be retained to capitalise on existing nostalgia and equity. However we recommended that the name and logo should be evolved and revitalised to communicate more effectively with the target market. We also recommended that the perceived benefits of the Smyths warehouse retailer proposition should be retained but its relevance deepened by developing a positioning based on the concept of ‘play’.
As a result of recommendations from the brand audit, we were retained to develop the brand and its communications. We evolved the Smyths brand mark into a more playful expression of the original.
We then advised on the complete in-store communications roll-out for all Smyths’ Irish stores. Internal signage for toy categories did not exist in stores and customer queries took up a lot of staff’s time. We designed a signage system that included primary category signs, a store directory and product feature notices.
As Smyths began to enter the UK market and open more stores, the diversity of their storefront formats became a challenge. We consulted with their team and assessed the large number of retail parks where Smyths stores were located. We created a toolkit that enabled each store front to be branded according to its format, yet having a consistent appearance for all of the stores.
We created a new product notice and pricing system. Previously, POS items were produced externally but this was no longer an efficient or effective process. We collaborated with the Smyths marketing, product and IT teams. Together, we designed an automated system that enabled each store to generate POS items directly from the Smyths product and pricing database.
All of this branding work strengthened the Smyths’ brand. Establishing the foundations for years of international growth