Category Archives: Brand Environments

Image 4 designs and builds spaces which reflect the key components of our clients’ brand. Here we talk about how we do that, what’s new and different, and how we see trends developing in this complex visual marketing space

Can a Distribution Place (Store?) be a marketing platform?

Today, I was asked “How can a ‘distribution place’ (i.e. The Store) best be used as effective marketing communication tool? ”

This is a really interesting question. What if I proposed that it cannot?

Image 4 commissioned research a few years ago from a major retail research firm. We learned that the consumer viewed the function of shopping as 2 completely different things.

One shopping interaction was all about “distribution” where the value was in lowest price, ease of entry/shopping/exit and appropriate selection. We call this the WalMart approach – a really big distribution box with a lot of stuff, with low prices, in every neighborhood, with easy parking. There is a value here, but it is neither marketing value nor experiential value.

The other shopping interaction was all about “experience” where the value was in the quality of the merchandise, the store experience, the ability to shop with friends and relatives, investing time in the non-commodity experience. Cost of merchandise is rarely a factor, but display quality, and affinity to the brand values is a major factor attracting the shopper.

By definition, this is a marketing platform for the brand’s values. In fact, we see it as critical that the brand create affinity with the shopper within this environment – the 3D selling space.

This is the basis for our re-thinking of the retail design process, all the way from brand positioning to site selection to store layout, to merchandising, to signage – an integrated environmental approach specifically focused to communicate brand values.

The retailers who are succeeding today have accomplished this. Those who have not – particularly WalMart – are enjoying lower or flat same store comps, customer abandonment, and ultimately must clarify with the consumer their brand value.

Image 4 exists to align a brand’s value and project, even embed, it within the store environment. And today, a store means a shopping location – from a tent at an event to a popup shop in SoHo or LaBrea, to a retail mall.

NewGround – Lebanon, TN: Bank Interior Project

These photos show part of a large bank interior project that we produced and installed in Lebanon, TN.  The merchandising design was fun, exciting, and unique and our production team was up to the challenge!!  One of my favorite parts was the hanging circular banner.  The lightweight aluminum frame was quick and easy to install with impactful and changeable graphics; adding both a design element and a messaging vehicle.  Another interesting element was the soffit treatment!  We used a combination of custom printed wallpapers as well as custom cut and printed layered acrylic that stands out from the wall.  Check out the photos!

- Cara Conti, Project Coordinator

How to Improve your Visitor’s Pop-up Experience

I read today in the Wall Street Journal here that even “the rich” have changed their buying habits. They are seeking items that are one-of-a-kind or very short run, they are willing to spend more on a high-value experience than on an expensive material good.

Sounds like a recipe for a pop-up retail experience!

A great popup is retail+event. You create rarity and combine it with surprise! And if you’re doing a good job at it, you create the physical presence that allows the buyer to immerse himself/herself in your brand – not only the logo, but the brand values.

Get those same consumers to engage in a social referral – Facebook, tweets, etc – and you’ve got every element of the non-commodity sales event.

So, based on numerous projects we’ve executed, here’s what to focus on:

Communicate and demonstrate value. Deliver the experience, deliver the product that compels customers to tell friends. Look for an emotion: mystery, delight, surprise, astonishment, value. Embed that emotion deeply in your design.

Give them (and you) the Long Tail. Engineer an opportunity for consumers to friend your FB page, enter on your blog, Tweet to their friends what they are doing, and where.

Deliver the Experience.  Hire great staff, hire enough staff, develop a brand environment that speaks to the consumer in his and her language. Be OPEN when the consumer visits!

Create Immersive Space. Think about and design the store layout with the intent of moving customers through the space to the outcome you desire. Stage-manage the consumer at every touch point. If you can’t, hire a designer who can.

Beauty or the Beast? Work the little things – clean entrances, beautiful graphics, delightful merchandise staging, clean restrooms if you have them, effective cashwraps, credit card swipes or mobile cash registers. Make the physical and mental experience delightful.

For help with any or all these things, call us at 603-644-007, or visit with us at Event Marketing Summit in Chicago May 16-19.

Image 4 works with brands and agencies to execute space for their end-users that resonates on all these notes.