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Branded Spaces in a Post-Pandemic World

It’s the moment we’ve all been waiting for. A new normal. Hey, at least the word normal is in there somewhere.

Since we’re spending money on experiences again, we’d like to officially welcome you (back) to the tangible world. Now that you’re here, we have a question for you.

Would you describe your brand’s physical space (retail environment, office space, etc.) the same way you’d describe your product, service, or better yet, your brand?

The Power of Consistency

We’ve said it once, and we’ll say it again, your brand doesn’t end (or begin!) with the logo. The people you staff, the way you speak, the space you occupy, and the experience you offer all ladder up to a greater understanding of your brand identity. The best brands deliver a holistic brand experience to tell one cohesive story, particularly important in our current landscape

“Retail branding has come a long way from the time when having similar colour palettes on the primary name board and internal branded materials was considered good enough. With the consumer decision journey now criss-crossing online and physical worlds, retailers have to ensure consistent and high quality brand experiences across channels and points of engagement.” – Martin Roll

Apple is a master in consistency. Every interaction with an Apple product, from the packaging, to the user interface, to the in-store experience, merges function with delight. Steve Jobs’ first Apple store was created as a playground to teach customers about computers, the Internet, and Apple products. Designing the in-store environment around the consumer helped Apple make computers feel accessible and fun, cementing their cult following and launching them toward success. 

Your in-person experience is a chance to pull your consumers (or your employees) into your brand, not push it on them. It’s not about whipping out all the bells and whistles, it’s about curating a branded space consistent with the rest of your brand’s touchpoints. What do you want people to feel when they walk in the door?

If these questions are creating more confusion than clarity, we have a little work to do. But don’t worry! We’ll get there together.

Here’s 3 critical questions to help you prepare your space for a post-pandemic world:

What do you do?

Start with the basics of your unique product or service. What do you do? What are your unique strengths and weaknesses? How does your product/service align with your customers’ values? How does it fit into their lives? Your website told them the answers to all those questions, your in-person experience should show them.

Williams-Sonoma, for example, isn’t selling cookware, they’re bringing their customers’ Top Chef fantasies to life. In-store cooking classes leave their customers with a memorable experience (and perhaps, a tasty meal) to write home about, positioning their products as the natural hero of the story. 

Williams-Sonoma Sonoma interior
Williams-Sonoma Sonoma, CA

Why do you do it? 

Dig a little deeper. Why do you do it? You know how your offering aligns with your customers’ values, but what are your brand’s values? What is the fundamental reason you exist, beyond making money? Big questions, we know. Here’s a little help

Starbucks exists “To inspire, and nurture the human spirit – one person, one cup, and one neighborhood at a time.” Despite being the world’s largest coffee franchise, their commitment to community shines through in their localized in-store experiences. With over 200 designers working out of 18 different studios around the world, a unique approach to each store’s design helps Starbucks hold true to its “neighborhood coffee shop” story without sacrificing their uniquely Starbucks feel.

Starbucks Milan interior
Starbucks Milan
Starbucks Shanghai interior
Starbucks Shanghai

Why should I care?

In an increasingly digital world, experiences mean more than ever. They’re what make us human. The rise of experiential marketing and “experience centers” are proof of the increasing effort to bring humanity back into the fold. 

Companies like Samsung are restructuring their stores to focus more on the in-store experience than the end transaction, allowing customers to test drive new products, receive personalized service, and ultimately connect with the brand beyond a purchase. Capital One has gone as far as building Capital One cafés across the country, offering a variety of services (banking included) to build loyalty the human way. 

Capital One Cafe, Georgetown, DC
Capital One Café Georgetown, Washington, D.C.

If your in-person experience isn’t offering something your stakeholders (customers or employees) can’t get online, it’s probably not worth the rent. Here’s a few tips for making it worth their while: 

Embrace technology to create a personalized experience.

Technology has enabled brands to create seamless, predictive, personalized, and delightful environments that can hugely impact sales and brand metrics. Between your website, social media presence, newsletter, targeted ads, and more, a majority of modern consumers interact with your brand at a variety of different touchpoints before deciding to become a customer. Not only is this a testament to the importance of consistency, but to the abundance of data available to help you create a highly powerful, highly personalized in-person experience.

Leverage the senses to delight your customers.

Regardless of what the last year has led us to believe, we live in a tangible world. Digital experiences can only engage two of the five senses. Your in-person experience should engage all of them. What does your brand feel like? What does it smell like?

Need help getting to the root of your brand’s identity? Get your copy of our Brand Thinkbook here.

Center the experience around your audience. Don’t make them work for it.

Attention spans are shorter than ever. If your value proposition isn’t immediately clear, you risk losing prospective customers. So make it easy. Whether it’s engaging with your products, learning a new skill, or shedding light onto the humanity behind your brand, your space should serve a clear function (or a few), thoughtfully guiding your consumers through the desired experience. What story are you here to tell?

Having an experienced interior design team with a deep understanding in branding can be a game changer for your brand. Got an incredible story that should be expressed in your space? Our friends at Folklore Spaces are ready to help you tell it. Folklore is a story driven interior design studio that helps brands delight customers and keep them coming back for more. Check them out for yourself.

By Lauren Carr-Gasso Jul 30, 2021
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