Monthly Archives: April 2012

case study: branded design – the genetic code / part 2

What if a brand does not have a “body”?

I have pointed out how a brand’s DNA is what defines it and sets it apart in BRANDED DESIGN – THE GENETIC CODE / PART 1

The physical retail space can be seen an extension of the brand’s DNA, as in it is the “body” of the brand.

For a brand that does not yet have its “body” or a physical space, we first have to “exfoliate” the marketing layers to get down to the original brand essence. Very often, the findings of this exercise stimulate a rethinking of the current brand positioning and its strategic development. It becomes an opportunity for the company to verify its core strategic direction and intent of the brand. Does the brand always deliver along its original intent?

Once we have identified “the essence” of the brand, we look for a representation of it to use as a starting point for our design strategy. It becomes the theme for the conceptual design approach. This can be as small as a key word, an ingredient, or a technique around which the brand was built. Any of these can become a catalyst to the design concept to formulate a design vision congruent with the brand’s defining theme.

case study: the aesthetic of a smashbox photo camera is the catalyst for our new design of the brand’s “body”

The emotional response and result

By looking at the brand this way, we peel back the layers to find its brand essence and use it as a catalyst to develop a design concept.

The design will be able hold up regardless of size and context because it is built directly into the brand’s genetic code. Using the code that made the brand to create a contextual environment allows the consumer to recognize the same emotional connection they have already established with the product and the brand. The environment becomes the logical extension of that emotion.

Esthetics linking directly back to Smashbox Cosmetics brand genetic heritage:

So the first step in our design method it is about (re)discovering what is already there, sometimes well hidden under many layers of distortion.  By observing and evaluating, we often find the best starting points. Every brand carries a powerful source code, it is just a matter of unveiling it and putting it back to use.

Next time I will show how we put this code to use and develop retail designs from it.

staging the product” – The Photo Studio setup for Smashbox Cosmetics

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Contrast tactics continued..

I just came across another beautiful example for using the tactic of strong contrast in retail design so I am tagging this onto my last post.

When beauty care brand Malin and Goetz went to create their LA retail store (which only opened very recently) they applied the same meticulously and minimalist design esthetic they are known for  through their packaging and founding New York store. You can see that here the problem of driving attention to small and similar looking products is resolved with color coding them and reducing the decor of the space around them so they can shine bright as visual attractor to the eye. Setting them up in a grid helps the eye finding them even easier.

The exterior facade is in sync with the whole concept: the window frames out what the brand wants you to see and nothing more!

A beautiful reduction to the essential.

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Contrast for the eye!

When you attempt to sell small products it only makes sense that you set them up in strong contrast to the interior by un-cluttering your store and giving them room to exist.

A beautiful example by london based VONSUNG for  Polka Gelato, where the ice cream cooler-display is staged as a focus point to play out the colorful array of the various flavors in strong contrast with a completely tuned down interior.


Another tactic would be to frame your product well in display vitrines that attract attention by themselves such as these surreal jewelry cases that magically balance on a trumpet shaped leg and want to be discovered as seen at French jeweler MAUBOUSSIN in their stores worldwide designed by us –



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Dynamic wall

I came across this very dynamic wall exhibit, which was developed by Jan Kaplicky & Andrea Morgante for the new Enzo Ferrari Museum in Modena. Chosen to illustrate a life line the array of undulating fins creates a very animated and dynamic wall development with high visual impact. Beautiful play with light and shadows and infinite options to integrate display.

Definitely a traffic stopper in a retail store application!

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Love story to attract consumers

Germany based marketing firm LIGANOVA came up with a clever and quite beautiful idea to attract consumers into store for Valentines day.

The campaign is inserted into the HUGO BOSS flagship store on Champs Elysees  and is based on two characters who meet and fall in love in Paris. Window displays as well an interior pop-up scenes pull consumers into the stores as they tell the story of Juliette and Louis. A beautiful example of creating attention through design!

Check it out if you are in Paris before June.

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case study: branded design – the genetic code / part 1

The brand and “its body”

I often get asked how we develop retail design concepts for brands that need to retain their identity in multiple formats and locations. “What is your approach and process?” I’m asked.

The first part in the design process is finding the brand’s genetic code – the identity – so that we can build the design around it. Our task is to develop a “face” for a brand in the beauty and luxury industry. We then use the “face” of the brand to develop concepts for environments – concepts that can be translated into multiple retail formats, from small department store kiosks to full size retail stores.

Example: smashbox cosmetics was born in a photostudio. The esthetic of a studio set is the driving DNA behind the brand.Example: smashbox cosmetics was born in a photostudio. The esthetic of a studio set is the driving DNA behind the brand.

A brand’s DNA, the genetic code that created the brand, is what defines it and sets it apart. Often, this code has been altered or watered down over years of brand development. This comes naturally with management changes, brand extensions, and global expansion. If you dig hard you can usually trace the origins of the brand, which are the key elements that made it unique in its origin and eventually made it successful. To create an effective physical design to represent a brand, which can live independently of size and location, it must be close to that original DNA.

Think of it this way: the DNA code is in the brand, and the body is the physical retail space created by the brand’s code. The code is the smallest common building block that is embedded into any design expression. It becomes the common thread in all the design formulations to come.

The power of a brand is in its core message and we use it as the driving idea behind any aspect of the branded design.

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