Inspirational Owners: June 2007
REMO General Store
Remo Guiffre, merchant extraordinaire, brand owner, strategist and creative director of the much loved REMO General Store, shares his insights on Love and Respect, the CustOMER and what shoppers are looking for in-store and online.
Lovemarks: What do you think consumers are looking for in a retail experience (in-store/online)?
Remo Giuffre: I think people are seeking authentic experiences, both in-store and online. Honesty is the most valuable currency of the new economy. The recipe is simple. Do good work...and be yourself.
Lovemarks: Why do you think people love REMO General Store? What sets you apart from comparative services on the market?
Remo Giuffre: I have often referred to myself as an "accidental strategist." It’s not as if we set out in 1988 with a master plan to generate love and loyalty beyond reason. However, those two things are natural by products of: how we instinctively communicate, the way we do things and (critically) the network model underpinning how we are structured.
We involve CustOMERs (REMO backwards, get it?) in our business processes, most especially the development and marketing functions. In this way "The Community is the Brand" and our CustOMERs feel a real sense of ownership and pride in the brand that they are helping to develop and make great.
The other thing that sets us apart is the nature of our business mission. Selling stuff is not our raison d’etre; and yet, paradoxically, it’s the selling of stuff that fuels the development of the brand in pursuance of a vision. CustOMERs feel this distinction.
Lovemarks: Lovemarks is premised on the Love/Respect Axis and attaining both High Love and High Respect. How do you relate this idea to how your business works from day to day?
Remo Giuffre: Building great and sustainable brands and businesses needs to be done brick-by-brick...or, in our case, CustOMER by CustOMER and t-shirt by t-shirt. There are no short cuts. Having said this, technology enables hitherto unavailable scalability, e.g. people love YouTube and Facebook...but neither of those brands have been around for all that long.
Lovemarks: An idea associated with Lovemarks is the idea of Loyalty Beyond Reason – in thinking about your business how, in broad terms, do you define Loyalty?
Remo Giuffre: Loyalty for REMO is driven by a sense of belonging to the REMO community and overall gestalt. It’s a tribal thing. People feel connected, and the fact that our CustOMER Network is global adds a certain cache and mystery. This loyalty manifests itself in many ways. CustOMERs tell others about us. They forgive us for our mistakes. They default to us for their gift purchasing wherever possible. They support the team.
Lovemarks: Do you have any examples of how you use storytelling to add mystery to your business?
Remo Giuffre: Everything about REMO is storytelling. We regard the molecules that CustOMERs order from our website as merely the tip of an inherently interesting iceberg. It’s our job to tell and enable the telling of the stories that make up that iceberg. The world is made up of atoms and molecules, but REMO World is also very much made up of stories...true stories, not fiction.
Lovemarks: Can you identify how one of the five senses – or a combination or interplay of more than one – connects most strongly with your product of service?
Remo Giuffre: I think that, of all the senses, the visual one is most important for the REMO experience. We’ve consistently favoured a certain aesthetic and a particularly clean and straightforward look’n’feel. Every graphic we’ve ever produced has reinforced these visual preferences. Our most loyal CustOMERs are probably the ones who most closely share these aesthetic preferences.
Lovemarks: Attributes associated with design, innovation and resilient sustainability are a part of the evolution from trademarks to brands to Lovemarks. How highly do you rate these attributes and why?
Remo Giuffre: REMO is a designed entity in all senses of the word. A great deal of thought goes into every aspect of what we do, and every pixel of the website. Similarly, innovation has always been a core driver and key ingredient within the REMO "Brand Soup."
Finally, sustainability has been part of our quality mantra since Day One. In fact, one of our earliest merchandise slogans (initially coined in relation to an expensive Il Bisonte briefcase) was "Buy it once, and own it forever". Disposability has never been of appeal at REMO. CustOMERs respond positively to all of these values. They just feel right.
Lovemarks: Name 5 of your Lovemarks