Every brand wants to be unique. In the ever-growing arena of physical retail stores the competition for an experience that creates a lasting memory with their customers is fierce. To be relevant today means to be talked about. The five-minute fame is the minimum goal and success in retail brand design is measured after sales but also after popularity. Write ups in glossy industry magazines as well as mentions on blogs, Facebook and Twitter are moving the mark today.
In a previous post I elaborated on the strategy of using the concept of illusion to attract attention. Today I want to highlight the concept of disruption. To be unique means you do something nobody else does. You invent or repurpose something in a new inventive way. You disrupt the conventional. The purpose of it is not uniqueness in itself but to surprise with a new perspective, perception or understanding of things similar as conceptual art is done. It evokes critical thinking, questioning and often emotions, which is what touches us about art. I see this strategic tactic increasingly borrowed in the world of branded retail design. Not the inclusion of a commissioned art piece but rather the application of a similar conceptional approach. The really unique results shine through brilliant conception, tightly connected to the brand’s DNA, challenging the visitor (as of “in a museum”) with a new idea thus creating a moment of deep engagement and connection. With disruption I mean the breaking of the expected mould. Challenging the expectation and offering a truly new experience. It is unfortunately rarely achieved. It takes guts for a brand to take this direction. Newness involves risk taking and although they are thirsty for it, most brands are not daring enough to step beyond the boundaries of conventions to explore the field of the unknown. It takes a confident and visionary leader inside a brand to understand the benefit of such direction. An increasingly rare species, which is why it is such a great achievement for those who have gone there.
I am listing below a few examples, not all necessarily most ones, but relevant to illustrate the idea:
The Reduction of color and geometry as an extreme measure to highlight the labels sub brand.
Absence is the disruptive tactic.
CdG is a master of disruption.
A brutalist architectural move and the absence of a store front. Vitrines are in the floor. Customers don’t see a store but a large stair engaging the entry.
The entrance is a “gate” to another world. Disruptive geometry throughout the building.
An object marks the entrance to a non visible world. It breaks with all retail conventions: No visible store.
Another store that is completely closed off to the outside. Engaging with the curiosity of the customer.
Unconventional signage. The building = the brand.
The signage becomes an art piece.
The facade as a canvas.
Here the building shape and the facade becomes the expression of the brand.
A space defining structure that speaks about local craftsmanship.
A sculptural stair that points to the leather heritage of the brand.
A stage in a life style store.
A seemingly empty store engages in customers curiosity.
A space difficult to understand.
A disorienting world of color and texture.
Street art style and erotic in a high-end jewelry store.
Less is more. The less you show, the more it is visible.
Landscapes of color. Unexpected arrangements of product.
Unconventional material use.
Wine from another angle. Display re-thought.
Cars in a new perspective. Clever layout and the use of mirrors throughout allo customers to experience cars in an innovative way.