Tag Archives: Brand design

What it takes…

Brands want to be innovative and catching with their customers. They seek to connect on an emotional level. Designers need to deliver concepts that can facilitate this goal. Creating such a strategic design takes a lot of very deep considerations – for the brand, its back ground, history, people, message,operations, sales, intent and culture – and for the customers, who are seeking innovation and a unique experience.

A good strategic brand concept  for a store translates into designs at all scales that are custom tailored to the brand, its expression to the customer and its operational requirements.We task ourselves to invent environments that facilitate truly unique consumer/user experiences.

I will illustrate this along the following case study:

My first substantial task with MAC Cosmetics was to create a new retail store environment for them. The brand is rooted in professional make up artistry with a strong emphasis on individual creative expression.

mac cosmetics design

MAC Cosmetics design

Our first considerations were explorations as to what the environments, in which make up artists work, looked like and what did and did not work.It was clear that we needed something that was adaptable and flexible to suit the individual needs and promote the artists. A sort of open stage with a flexible arrangement of functional fixtures and tools. In response we developed a modular fixture system that could be re-arranged to endless configurations by any one without the use of tools.we sketched, drew and built models until we knew what worked.

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For the feel of the space we wanted it to be unique to the brand and the products, so we needed something that linked the environment to the idea of products applied to skin. We wanted it to be recognizable that this environment is made to showcase make-up and no other product. So we considered the theme of skin and its organic characteristics. We invented a material to skin our modular fixtures so that consumer would have a memorable touch sensation when getting in contact with our fixtures. Those top skins were equally modular so they would not impact the flexibility of the fixtures below. In line with this idea we developed displays from an animated scenario of attractors that simulated the interaction around the fixture through customers. It created organic displays, onto which we organized product along elevation lines similar to the lines found on maps of mountains.

Image converted using ifftoany

 

 

 

 

counter top wireframe

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all displayers

 

The long design process eventually led to beautiful sculptural objects. Some of the we lit from below to accentuate their shapes.

 

eye testerlip mountain

lipstick copy

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Further we developed accessories like hand mirrors with an organic look and touch to emphasize the theme of skin and beauty. The concept needs to apply at all scales. They were paired with sensor activated water fountains that emerged from the counter top skin creating another impactful organic moment.

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The space itself also needed to speak the same formal language so we created concept touch points through out the store such as areas where we”peeled” the floor off the ground to form an organic enclosure for privacy or  “melted” the ceiling to a softer, organic form or poured a thick 1″ layer of clear Urethane on the floor, to soften the hardness of the space. We choose finishes that contrasted and gave a dynamic quality to the space. The fixtures ended up being built from cement board and a custom formulated Poly Urethane. The space had elements of concrete and acrylic, rather neutral for it to function as a presentation stage for the sculptural fixtures.

 

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The whole effort of 4 months of design, 8 months of development and 4 months of construction resulted in an engaging, unique and innovative environment.

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MAC Cosmetics / New York

 

regis pean + omni//form is a strategic architecture and design firm creating
experience based design around the world
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consumer engagement

Retail is entertainment now. We realize that today’s customers want more than product on display. They want stories to explore, communities to connect to, fun, excitement and surprise.  A trip to a retail store is expected to be a continuous discovery. What’s new? is not a question but a demand. And brands have to cater to it to stay in the game.

As product launches and visual stories have quantitative limitations ( per year/per season) it has become an unwritten rule to success to include other forms of engagement to quench the consumer’s increasing thirst for stimulation. The demand for innovative concepts is pushing designers and think tanks to generate constant surprises with a “never-seen-that-before” idea. Often this innovation is replaced by any type of gadget with the hope that technology itself will be the saver. But unless put into a relevant context to the brand story those gadgets often remain unused and ignored (think iPads with irrelevant or boring content).

Here are some better examples of tech gadgets:

QR code activation

The clever part of QR codes is that it requires no hardware ( and with that no maintenance) on the store side. The QR code is on the visual and the consumer activates it with their own handheld device to access the digital side of the brand.

 

 

 

 

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This actually works! The good part here is that it is coupled with a printer, so the personalized remedy for your skin prints out as a recipe to take to the counter for purchase and eventually home with you (so you wont forget!)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Smashbox Arnotts Dublin

We have seen a lot of these photo booths pop-up recently. They draw a lot of attention, especially with younger customers.  However, rarely are they relevant to the brand they promote.

We thought a fitting place for this would be a brand that is rooted in photography? So we included the photo booth into a setup for Smashbox Cosmetics, a brand that was actually founded in a photo studio. It infuses fun and allows for upload to social media and print outs to take home. Created-tested-photographed at Smashbox.

 

 

 

Barneys_NewYork_table

This dining table is a touchscreen. You order what you want to eat and while you wait for your food  you can browse and shop from the store the restaurant is attached to.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Apple

When your product is the tech gadget all you need to do is place it on a table and make it accessible. Immediate interactivity.

 

 

 

 

 

There are many advocates  for high-tech solutions, but in my experience the simple is often the better. The more intuitive the better. The less technical the more fail save.

Engagement can also mean low tech. Addressing senses to create a multilayered memory. Wether it is a scent, a sound, a touch those can all augment the experience.

Lego

What is more fun than playing with the product? Instant engagement!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lunx

Smell triggers emotions and memories. In the world of beauty lots of products are chosen by consumers for their smell, which often is only a by-product of the formula. Making the fragrance a touch point creates an indirect engagement with the affiliated product.

 

 

 

 

 

omni//form for Mac cosmetics

These displays are soft and squeezable. I designed these years ago to create a haptic memory in customers. The unexpectedness of the touch created lasting memories (and conversations!) Products for skin care  and beauty displayed on organic shaped skins. Hand mirrors in unexpected shapes fit perfectly into ones hands creating a “feel-good” moment.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

sheraton

Sound: One can plug-in their portable music device into these rocking chairs and sound comes out of the back. Fun to experience and surprising. We designed this for a hotel lobby.

 

 

 

 

 

These are some examples of tactics of consumer engagement, however the most effective way is still the oldest and most traditional one: the human exchange. Nothing compares to a smile and a great advice from a knowledgeable sales person if you want your consumer to love your brand. No design can beat that.

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illusion in retail

As retail transforms increasingly into a world of leisure and entertainment today’s designers have to be able to craft environments able to tell stories and to amuse. Retail is standing in for the historic circus, constantly re-inventing its content  to entertain people with surprising effects and acts. The product is no longer the only intent of the visit when the retail space has become a social market place to meet, exchange, learn and discover. Cool hunters are out to be the first ones to discover the uncovered, unusual and unexpected.

Visual effects are tools that we borrow from theater design because they can support a story with a lasting emotional imprint. Sometimes a simple tactic can create a surprising illusion that fully transforms an environment to a fantastical un-real world. While such techniques usually have a short life span (once you have seen it, you are over it) they certainly contribute for the brand to be talked about. Like the buzz around an artshow.

Such effects can be found increasingly executed through new technologies of all kinds but my experience has told me to stay away from high tech solutions in retail as they are usually not suited for 20hrs of operations 7 days a week and when they break it leaves a very dull space behind. The tactics I am referring to are low tech with high impact.

To illustrate I am listing some  examples here below:

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comme des garçons in New York

Marking Entry: The futuristic entry into this store stands in opposition to the building. It is a threshold into a different world behind like the entry to a fairy tale.

Viktor&Rolf-Upside Down Store - Milan

Viktor&Rolf-Upside Down Store – Milan

Inversion: An even more literal take on the fairy tale this entire store was build upside down.

Camper New York

Camper New York

Repetition: An iconic products defines the whole environment.

Pop up store LVMH

Pop up store LVMH

Villa Moda - Dubai

Villa Moda – Dubai

Texture: Color pattern desorient and define the geometry of the space.

das brot - wolfsburg

das brot – wolfsburg

Ad absurdum: The unexpected use of roofing material on the inside.

Zeferino - Sao Paolo

Zeferino – Sao Paolo

Proportions: The distortion of the proportions creates an extreme spatial feel.

MAC Cosmetics New York

MAC Cosmetics New York

Unexpected behavior: Architectural elements peel away, destabilizing the environment.

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despresso – New York

Illusion: The space has seemingly been rotated to the side.

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Maison Magiela – Miami

Stage set: Fake doors & paper thin walls show an unreal setting.

Godiva - Tokyo

Godiva – Tokyo

Fairy Tale Effects

It is with such tools that designers can create memorable results which provoke internal reflection and intellectual engagements that create discussion, criticism and attention, all aspects that a brand would normally wish for.

 

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It starts with understanding the task.

You are looking for a designer ? You have written up your needs, a fact sheet or a brief and assembled some support documentation ready to send out, but how do you decide whom to go with when there are many choices with similar credentials?

The qualitative difference lies in the type of response to your request for proposal. A designer’s responsibility is to understand what his client really intends. To do that the good design partner will make the extra effort to evaluate both, the context you are coming from and what are you trying to achieve with the project –  in addition to the bare brief.

To really understand the task the designer must reach out to explore with his client who they are and what they do. That is true for individuals as much as for brands. What is the brand culture, who are the people behind it, what style do they promote, what fans do they attract, who is their target customer, what is the product all about and what is their point of differentiation from their competition? It is no different from a tailor taking your measures.

To make this process easier and more fun we typically prepare visual boards with specific questions, which we then answer in collaboration with a prospective client as shown in these examples below from a recent proposal.

omni//form brand story questionnaire

omni//form experience questionnaire

omni//form mood questionnaire

A committed designer would also want to know as much as possible about the context he will be working into such as, location specifics, traffic pattern, geographic orientation, adjacencies (specifically if there are competitors) and any restrictions. He would also want to learn about how the brand sees its product being accessed by its customer in store and other channels, as all of this is key to designing a functional (branded) environment. In the tailor’s analogy this would be discussing the fit, use and style.

This very first collaborative evaluation of the task is an instrumental step in defining a qualitative brief in the partnership between a designer and a client that will help to avoid misconceptions and shortcomings. Without this base work even aesthetically winning results will emerge outside of context and bear the risk to fail to often great surprise.

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Here is an excellent example on how good creative design solutions can make all the difference in retail.

omniform for objet carpet in zurich

Selling carpets is a challenging business. Samples take up a lot of retail space so that retailers are forced to either rent large surfaces or store them in classifier systems such as pull-out frames, drawers, or shelving, which do not exhibit their goods well to their customers. It requires a sales person to pre-select samples and never gives an overview of the entire gamut. This little store, I spotted in Zürich recently, is defined by a long and narrow foot print, which would have made it even harder to fit in traditional large storage/display systems for their carpet samples.

The designers found a stunning solution to the problem:  By rolling up the samples and storing them in a grid of wall slots the designers did not have to take away much of the depth of the already narrow store. It cleverly allows for customers to get a full overview of the product line, while being able to touch and feel the product (a necessity when it comes to carpets).

The ingenious idea though is the decision to keep the entire store front unobstructed, exposing the whole showroom to the outside and turning the sample display walls into window displays. By framing the store front window in addition the designers created a powerful display. Accent lighting sets the product display walls in contrast to a reduced monochromatic black and white interior allowing for the product to be the hero on display.

The designers understood well how to take advantage of the long narrow space, the large vitrine and the location. No coincidence that there is a traffic light not far from the store forcing cars to stop right in front of the vitrine on a red light.

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winter feel

I came across a beautiful store design concept the other day that I would like to mention here as a good example of a branded environment:

Salzburg Sportalm Kitzbühel is one of Austria’s best-known winter clothing manufacturers. When looking to develop a new corporate design for all future Sportalm retail outlets the client wanted to keep the interiors very sober and ‘reduced’, with an emphasis on black and white, since the clothes are colourful and cover a range of different textures.

SPORTALM-Vera Subkus 01

For the firm’s new image, the architects Baar Baarenfels came up with an abstract impression of snow formations. The walls – homogeneously clad with white Avonite – seem to be all of one piece thanks to the undulating forms and seamless finishing. “Cuts” in the surface are reminiscent of breaks in snow covers.

The environments are fully distinguishable and the shop fit successfully creates emotional connection with winter landscapes and the lifestyle that goes with it, pointing to the brand’s core product line of winter sportswear.
Sportalm retail store (Photo: Vera Subkus)
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Leading the way

It is no secret that in store design way guiding is of utmost importance.  There is a whole science behind when and how customers make relevant decisions and what way they are taking through stores. The way customers navigate a store can not be left to coincidence even though all research and studies can never prescribe all the possible options a customer path can have. Because the goal is to get a customer interested, excited and emotionally connected to your brand to buy your product you have not yet won by bringing them into the store only. You must keep them interested all along the way.

As strategic planners for retail environments we follow a simple rule that has given us much success: we build a sequence of visual attractors throughout the store that pull the customer through the space. Visual stimulants are created to keep the interest up and raise the emotions when detected. They play with the ideas of discovery in the sense that the customer is seduced to come and see it from close up. They must be easily detectable, so ideally setup by themselves in high contrast. Lighting plays a big role in making them stand out from the crowd. When setup as multiples in sequence, it creates a controlled physical movement through space.

Here are a few examples of such attractors from a jewelry store for the french brand Mauboussin omni//form designed in Singapore, which we can use as an example for demonstration purposes:

first impression
a “wow” moment in the entry

Important is the first point of interest to engage the customer in the journey. If visible through the entrance door it can also create the most important customer movement: entering the store. In this example a big statement was created with a cascading chandelier  (light and height support the concept of attention grabbing) over product displays to create interest from outside in and lead the customer on a discovery path. Before they know they are engaged into the choreographed experience through the store.

“what’s back here”?
finish and lighting contrast boost the effect of the passage

“what’s in there”?
Treasure box display provocatively opened to invite viewing

“what am I looking at”?
intriguing mirror effects demand for understanding

“relief”!
inviting moments to relax

store design by omni//form, inc

www.omniform.us

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Inspiring!

When it comes to retail concepts, few brands create spaces as diverse and conceptual as Camper and Aesop. Both brands, though fundamentally different in their origins and sales offerings, showcase a strong affinity to design. Design plays an instrumental role in the consumer experience of their brand.  Choosing design innovation as a life style that applies not only to their product allows them to push the envelope for unique solutions with every new store they open. In addition it is to note that Aesop often uses recycled materials or packaging elements creatively in new context. What makes it special is the fact that they team with independent designers (often locals reflecting best on local context) in creating shop concepts, ensuring each is totally unique in its setting in opposition to the trend of global uniformity.

Here are some of their most remarkable designs.-Truly inspirational!

 aesop paris

 aesop paris 2

 aesop melbourne

 aesop brisbane

 aesop singapore

 aesop strand arcade

 aesop brisbane 2

 aesop new york grand central

 aesop new york nolita

 camper vienna

 camper london

 camper lyon

 camper granada

 camper new york

 camper san francisco

 camper sevilla

 camper osaka

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Tell a good story!

I came across this great article on storytelling which I will simply paste in here below. This is very relevant where Design is supposed to bring marketing ideas to life. -Enjoy!

“Storytelling” has fast become a bit of a buzzword in the marketing world, particularly as brands struggle to set themselves apart and keep consumers engaged in the age of social media. However, storytelling in marketing requires a focused approach. It is no longer a matter of assembling and broadcasting top-down product strategies to attract consumers. The rapid acceleration in the digital space means that customers want to engage with brands in a personal, interactive way.

Here are a few tips that companies should use when defining or refining their brand story:

Get Perspective and Mean It

Every company brings its own history, vision, and attitude to its work, whether it is in the fashion, manufacturing, or public sector. Campaigns must grab attention with a distinct point of view—i.e. a sense of purpose for the marketing initiative—and arrest consumers with focused content, interesting graphics, and memorable elements.

Point of view in marketing campaigns does not have to be a regurgitation of an entire corporate vision. On the contrary, it should be a snippet, a tidbit, or a personal story. It is most important to leave consumers in amazement at what they just experienced and thus with a sense that your company stands apart from competitors.

Have a Plot and Not Just Famous People

In addition to a unique point of view, brand campaigns need an overarching plot to link elements of a marketing strategy together. Again, this does not need to be epic, but should have a solid beginning, middle, and end.

Advertising often falls victim to the celebrity complex of having a famous person doing a selected activity while somehow engaging with the product in hand. Perfume ads are particularly guilty of this approach. Campaigns need to answer the consumer question, “Why should I care?” in order to be effective and stimulating.

Be Bold, Not Just Creative

The adage of thinking outside the box is obvious, but marketing strategy now more than ever needs to be audacious, authentic, and flexible to register across platforms. Messaging should be true to a brand’s vision yet tailored to a product’s unique characteristics.

The ongoing London Olympics is a perfect example of a major marketing failure on the part of many advertisers. While some have worked to build athletes’ stories into the fabric of their normal ads, they often lose a sense of brand purpose in the effort. For instance, Proctor & Gamble’s ads dedicated to mothers provides a memorable backdrop to the Olympic stories of athletes and are highly effective at generating consumer emotional response. Yet, these ads arguably edge towards a brand identity crisis because they leave you trying to remember what the company makes and how the commercial connects to it.

Jessica Quillin, Ph.D., is a co-founder of Atelier 36, a strategic consultancy focused on solutions for the luxury, fashion, beauty, and lifestyle industries.  You can follow her on Twitter @Atelier36.

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Powerful brand design

Virgin Atlantic keeps its brand promise of delivering a design enriched air travel experience with a nod to the future on its new A330 plane with a new interior concept.
The overall aesthetic is futuristic with angular lines, polished surfaces and geometric strips of lighting. The colour palette is largely neutral with pops of red – Virgin Atlantic’s signature shade – which covers stools and perches. RGB lighting can be altered to change the mood on board.
The plane is divided into different spaces; at its centre is a bar where flyers can mingle and relax. Surrounding it are stools, storage areas, private seats, standing space and storage.

Beautiful on-brand design by agency VW+BS which will certainly keep the airline desirable for savvy global citizens.

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