Winning formulas for retail

Right now there is a new battle. The battle to win back the customer to the retail store experience. Online shopping is changing the way we browse and hand over our cash. It seems that many shoppers have had enough of the lack or expense of parking and scarce service and would rather wait for a package gifted to themselves via the mail.

There will always be shops of the bricks and mortar kind. But the shopping experience needs to change and provide value to the customer. Retailers will need to be certain of their brand, what it stands for and the experience it will provide. Particularly in fashion retailing, customers desire a 3D sensory experience.

Last week I attended a seminar (Artichoke Night School- Interiors for Fashion), exploring the ingredients to create great spaces that reflect the brand experience for fashion retailers. This is a topic so close to my heart as my passion is for developing brands through brandmark identity and the brand experience through interior design.

These are some of the important ingredients I gleaned from the session.

  1. Understand the brand. What does it stand for and reason for being?
  2. Design for store flow and merchandisecategories.
  3. Plan for future flexibility, seasonal requirements and visual merchandising.
  4. The interior design should transcend fashion and reflect the soul of the brand.
  5. Ensure a synergy between online and physical store spaces. They should work together.

Style Precinct is a multidiscipline design practice focussed on developing successful outcomes for developing brands and spaces they inhabit.

Why you should become a green brand….

Do you want to be known as a green or brown brand? That is a question all businesses and their brands will need to consider at some point. I believe most of us want to do the ‘right’ thing and operate  in an environmentally sustainable way but how many businesses actually do? Many businesses perceive that it is a cost to become a certified green business. But does it have to be so?

  • Think of the money saved by operating more efficiently and using resources more effectively.
  • Create a point of difference for your brand and attract like-minded people to engage with.
  • Use social media platforms to publicise events and memorable activities which demonstrate you ‘walk the walk’ and are not just all talk. Share your green initiatives with your audience.
  • Can you become a market leader in your industry by embracing environmental credentials?

Here are my 10 tips for incorporating some green strategies into your marketing and communications:

  1. Choose your paper stock well Always use recycled or FSC (Forest Stewardship Council) products that are independently recognised for their practices for all your printed material. FSC products are recognised for their sustainable forest practices. If you have a quality brand and need to produce high quality printed material, choose a paper stock which includes a high recycled content (post consumer waste) and FSC content and print with vegetable based inks and aqueous varnish. Talk to your printer about what you want to achieve and ask for some paper samples.

    Print newsletter

    Printed on 80% recycled (post consumer waste) and FSC produced paper and printed with vegetable inks and finished with water based varnish.

  2. Printed Material Choose the purpose for printed material carefully. Choose a printer with eco credentials. ie clean production, sustainable business practices, supply chain procurement. Examine the possibilities of using suppliers with 100% waterless presses powered using 100% greenpower. Include a byline about the paperstock and method you have used to print on all your printed material.
  3. Promotional items If you are considering a promotional item as a giveaway at an event or function there are a number of eco-friendly products that can be branded with your logo and message. Consider how useful the item will be to the recipient and where it is manufactured. Did it travel half way round the world to your doorstep before you distribute it? Is it recyclable afterwards? I have used some of these ideas and have found some others including:
    – Fully recyclable plastic drink bottles
    – Paper stock embedded with native plant seeds. Read it, plant it, grow it.
    Seed sticks business cards
    – Shower water timers
    – Tubes of sunscreen
    – Non woven polypropylene bag or calico bags ( I reuse these over and over getting my groceries from the supermarket.)
    Bamboo desk sets, bamboo usb drives 
    Cornstarch pens, recycled pens and pencils. These options offer alternatives to plastic casings (which are fossil fuel derived) . The bio-degradability of the pen body can be compared to cardboard when composted, and there are no toxic or metal residues.

    branded products

    Bamboo - a renewable product used for branded products.

  4. Product Packaging Packaging design needs to be carefully considered to maintain a balance between protecting and securing the product with minimising waste in the packaging. Consider the materials used. Are they biodegradable or recyclable? Does the package allow efficient packaging for transport.
  5. Online Marketing An effective way of reaching your audience ( and reduce paper usage) is through electronic newsletters (eg MailChimp, Aweber) with links to your website or a blog. Provide content of value to your audience to build brand equity. Minimise your printed collateral by directing customers to the website and having a website friendly page on mobile devices. Make social media part of your brand communications strategy.
  6. Be Social Use of social media is a growing area for online marketing with Facebook, Linked In, Twitter, YouTube etc. increasing in popularity. Make sure you respond to all whether they are lovers or critics of your brand. Engage your audience and resist the temptation to sell on these channels.
  7. Events Ask your event provider about strategies to reduce the carbon footprint of hosting the event. Strategies may include reducing waste, recycling and reusing materials as options to offset carbon emissions and purchases of carbon credits. Consider public transport accessibility to the venue and include instructions for public transport on your invitations and electronically sent reminders.
  8. Act local Look at your local suppliers first. Become involved with your community. Being an active participant and supporter in your local community provides many personal and rewarding experiences. It gives your brand an opportunity to engage differently with your audience.
  9. Add green credentials. Start a program of improvement towards green accreditation for your business. Take the mini assessment at Green Biz check to get a taste of what needs to be done.
  10. Don’t greenwash Be proud to tell and promote your green activities and initiatives but make sure they are sound and any ‘green’ claims can be backed up. Greenwashing  is a term describing the deceptive use of green labeling or PR in order to promote a misleading perception of environmentally friendly business. This will only be harmful in the long run.
Of course marketing and communications is only one aspect to look at when introducing green initiatives into the operation of a business. All aspects including power consumption, waste management, supply chain procurement etc.  need to be examined to make a significant difference.
Noni Edmunds is a graphic designer and owner of Style Precinct design consultancy. Style Precinct provides graphic design, branding, copywriting and interior styling services to make your business brand and communications stand out against the competition. Visit www.styleprecinct.com.au to contact Noni for a free review of your business communications.
 

Golden rules for a compelling brand story

A struggle to achieve ultimate success, a lucky break, a chance encounter, a compassionate selfless helper or sheer guts to hang one’s neck out and try something different is a story hard to resist. Any one of these stories is engaging, emotional, memorable and something we identity with. Every business has its own unique story and way it operates. The ‘brand story’ is a powerful way to connect with your potential customers and make your business memorable in the marketplace.

Recently I watched the Lifetime movie,  Coco Chanel – a true’ rags to riches’ story. We all know of the Chanel brand and its associations with luxury, elegance and glamour. But this is a world away from the desperate up-bringing as a child in an orphanage and the poverty and hardship Gabrielle Chanel endured to become successful. Even when Chanel was a successful brand there were disappointments and disastrous new collection launches. Coco was able to reinvent herself with passion for her work and perseverance. The Chanel brand is much more relevant than a luxury clothing and accessories business when we know the personal story of the brand!

Chanel no 5 parfum

The signature scent for Chanel. The No. 5 fragrance is known as a brand in its own right.

 

Here are my ‘golden’ rules for communicating your brand story:

  1. Make it worth telling and relevant to your reader.  Place yourself in the shoes of the reader – Why should you care?  What does the customer need from you? Your message  should convey who you are, what you do and why they should do it with you.
  2. Have a strong ‘human’ dimension,  be true and honest. Manufactured stories won’t work!
  3. Tell something of interest, unusual or something helpful for your readers and relevant to the business promise you provide.
  4. Be in character. Don’t try to be something you are not. Use language and tone of voice suitable for your corporate identity.
  5. Be consistent with you brand ‘voice’ across the business from customer service, tweets, website content, print material and more.

Style Precinct is a design  consultancy helping businesses discover their brand stories. Style Precinct writes, designs and styles the essential elements to build a strong brand.

How to find the most powerful colour for your brand

 Colour is the ninth wonder of the world! It says so much  in a language without uttering a sound. Such a powerful design tool deserves to be used expertly. So how do you choose the right colour for your brand?

Pantone colour swatch fan
A Pantone colour swatch fan.

Here are a few of my tips when for making the right choice of colour.

  1. What industry is your business brand in? Is your business in the finance, industrial, residential, fashion, retail, educational sector? Each business sector has its own behavioural cues- a bit like body language. Everyone expects and understands these cues and they make people feel comfortable and reassured. For example the finance sector likes to been seen as conservative, solid, established and stable. The brand should convey these messages in an understated manner.  Good colour choices would be ‘business blue’ or muted tones like burgundy. Avoid pure and primary colours unless you are going for a ‘rebel’ brand look and feel with a business model that does things differently in your sector.
  2. How is your brand positioned in the market it competes in? Is it a premium priced brand or budget value brand? Use colour to help convey this message. Bright primary colours are usually associated with budget low-priced brands particularly primary mailbox red. Make your upmarket brand more luxe with a special custom or spot colour like ‘Valentino’ red. (See my comments on the recent Valentino exhibition here.)  Team your main colour with a wider palette to extend a mood or theme you are expressing with the brand.

    Valentino Branding

    The iconic "'V' of the Valentino brand which has its own custom colour known as a colour in its own right - Valentino Red. Picture taken at the entrance to Valentino exhibition at Brisbane Gallery of Modern Art.

  3. Is your brand competing in an overcrowded space? Sometimes it is sooo good to break all the rules! Make daring colour combinations or choose an unexpected colour none of your competitors would dare to embrace, ie be a ‘rebel’ brand. This can help get you noticed and make a strong point of difference.
  4. Meaning of colour. Colour has different meanings to different people across cultural boundaries. Even within one society, colours can have a different psychological effects across an audience. You need to think about the makeup of your target market and any differences in interpretation. Consider the tone as well as the colour. Warm colours (reds, orange, yellows) are associated with energy and happy emotions. Adding black, grey or a touch of cool blue to these tones will turn them into dingy shades that conjure up opposite emotions.
  5. Be consistent across a range of media. When you have decided on the perfect colour that expresses all the personality for your brand, make sure it can be reproduced accurately across a range of media. This means it needs to look like your colour on your website( RGB) as well as in your print materials (CMYK)  and from your desktop printer. Paint colours and fabrics are another consideration. Use a Pantone® colour which is a system of standardised colours for identifying, matching and communicating between providers.

 Check out this blog from Colour Lovers on colours that are the most dominant and powerful online: http://www.colourlovers.com/business/blog/2010/09/15/the-most-powerful-colors-in-the-world

Valentino – A style icon

Valentino knew how to create a strong brand with standout style. Can you imagine being 15 years old and being able to wear Valentino haute couture to your school formal? Well Brooke Shields did! Brooke wore a signature ‘Valentino red’ gown created for her as part of her modelling contract. During a week on business I popped in and saw this gown on display amongst a collection which showcases the brilliant career of Italian designer Valentino Garvanti. The exhibition at the Brisbane Gallery of Modern Art (GoMA)  features iconic pieces from 1958 through the 60’s, 70’s, 80’s and 90’s, to his last collection in 2008. 

Entrance to GOMA building, Brisbane

Gallery of Modern Art, Brisbane entrance

Valentino Garvanti spent a lifetime creating a unique brand founded on beautifying the female silhouette and his love of colour and decoration, to carve a special niche in the fashion world. Part of the golden era of haute couture, Valentino made his mark alongside his contemporaries Yves St Laurent and Karl Lagerfield. 

Valentino iconic designs

Magnetic book marks featuring: Evening dress from the 2009-10 by the new generation of designers for Valentino brand; Evening ensemble from 1969; Evening gown from 1991 with detail applied with beading.

I am amazed at the attention to detail; Valentino’s creations are living sculptural pieces which come to life in the theatre of red carpet appearances, royal weddings and academy award ceremonies.  I saw breathtakingly, stylish designs worn by Julia Roberts and Cate Blanchette’s academy awards appearances,  gowns worn by Elizabeth Taylor,  Audrey Hepburn,  Sienna Miller and Jacqueline Onassis’ wedding gown. Some are adorned with a rich embellishment of jewels, crystals,  sequins and beading, sculptural tulle ruffles and layers. Others feature blocks of bright colour with custom printed and hand painted fabrics, with strong lines and shapes. A kaftan print of black panthers and green silk even features handcut emerald eyes.  

Gallery information and ticket to exhibition

Gallery information booklet features the dress trimmed with ostrich feathers with beads and white strass which Sienna Miller wore.Gallery ticket features a delicate multilayered silk voile evening gown.

His patronage from royalty adds another dimension to the Valentino brand. In the 1960’s Princess Grace wore a contemporary orange poncho with fringing and wide leg pants. Italian princesses regularly wore and modelled his gowns and Princess Margaret was an avid customer. 

I am in awe as I observe how Valentino interpreted the mood of a fashion decade to create iconic pieces that reflect the era yet remain as stylish today. I love the way he created strong colour theme collections ie the signature Valentino red collection, the black collection and his famous white collection 1968 which features a range of off-whites and ivories which falter a range of skin tones.The famous ‘V’ brandmark has been incorporated as a golden detail embellishing a pocket on a coat. A dress from 1991 features an amazing combination of colours navy, emerald-green, grey, bronze, brown and orange silk. 

He took inspiration from many sources from  the story of an opera, the pattern of Wedgwood china, marble, the work of artist Gustav Klimt(Australian artist 1862-1915), the strong graphic shapes of the Josef Hoffman (cofounder of Wiener Werkstatte architecture and design). 

Valentino envening gowns

These magnets feature Valentino pink silk crepe evening gown with cape of pink organdy petals, 2007-08; Strapless cocktail dress of draped tulle with shirt featuring button roses, 1959

If you find yourself in Brisbane you can easily spend more than a couple of hours at this great exhibition and be inspired by the exceptional high standard of these outstanding art pieces. Did I mention even the stocking are handmade? Then there are the shoes…….. Valentino of course!!!

Colour Power

Colour is my passion. I love the way colour can make you feel. It has the power to uplift you and make you feel happy, sad, serious or sassy! Knowing  how to use colour and what the current trends are will help your business make the right decision on using colour suitable for your brand. Carry the feel of your brand into your retail /office  or event space with the right choice of colour and visual language.

 Colour is one of my favourite design tools and here’s what I learned from a Global Colour Research (a prominent UK trend forecaster) Spring/Summer 2011 trends presentation recently in Melbourne.  

As you might expect, trends emerge from attitudes of what is happening in our world. Not surprisingly recovering from the GFC but embracing the future (with cautious optimism) is a strong driver for 2011 trends.   

The four 2011 trend directions from Global Colour Research are:  

  1. Whisper-
    Incorporates ethereal, translucent, smokey,  fluid forms and skeletal structures and grid patterns (I can think of some great light shades examples like this ). Texture is important and the importance of heirlooms. Colours are muted with highlights of turquoise and greyed lilac.

   

Whisper-main colour palette

Whisper- main colour palette

  1. Spirit-
    This is a  favourite of mine embodying a homage to spring with colours featuring cool, bright tones of vivid English spring green balanced with earthy wood neutrals and added strength from an indigo purple. Natural materials eg. wood, skins and leather hearld the importance of nature. Materials are functional and eco desirable. Symbols are drawn from folk-lore or nature inspired. 
Spirit- main colour palette

Spirit- main colour palette

  1. Genteel-
    This trend embraces domestic nostalgia and is pale and interesting with a neutral palette of off white and greyed beiges with a shot of uplifting colour- red. Surfaces are distressed, patterned with relief, gilded or tonal. It can be used to add theatre and drama (with velvet and gold).
Genteel- main colour palette

Genteel- main colour palette

  1. Risk-
    For those who want something with a bit more bite!! Sci fi meets low fi, space age and industrial influences drive this trend. Expect to see hyper-realism (think of triffids), post apocalyptic dark shades. Rough and smooth textures and Superman comic strip colours of blue and orange-yellow (aged as though in the original comic book).
Risk-main colour palette

Risk- main colour palette

Note: Colours are approximate representations.  

Do you have a favourite? Let me know what you think?

Great Brand Packaging Idea

Wow! I love this idea for incorporating meaningful and memorable packaging that enhances the brand for Nike. This is a limited edition shoebox produced for Nike’s sponsorship of soccer. The box is plain and the usual on the outside. Open the lid and hey you are transported into the stadium with the internal graphic design. And even more impressive as you lift the lid you are greeted with the sound of the roar of the appreciative crowd (from an embedded sound chip). That has to make you feel good. And all for buying a pair of sports shoes!

Source:www.coolhunter.com

great brand packaging

Enhancing the brand experience with great packaging

Be special

Many businesses are trapped in a competitive cycle of being selected on price alone. If your customers choose you for this reason you don’t have much to offer them in return. You want your customers to choose you because you are either:
• The best
• The first
• The fastest
• The most reliable
• Have something special or different
• Or your customers just like you much better than anyone else.
Having a strong brand identity can help communicate your ‘difference’ and make you stand out in the minds of your potential customers (as well as your employees) and with a strong brandmark make you visually memorable as well. We receive a minimum of 2500 brand messages everyday- it is a crowded marketplace with every product competing for our attention. Our subconscious mind receives 2 million pieces of information every second. However the conscious mind can only process 5-9 pieces of information per second. Having a strong brand identity makes your product/service more easily remembered and identifiable in this competitive and crowded arena.

Brandmarks of popular cars

What emotional response do you have to these brands?

Take a look at the car market. Brands in this market are clearly defining their advantages through the branding.
BMW- performance
Audi-prestige
Mercedes- quality engineering etc.
Visit this site for more on the background of world brandmarks of popular cars.

Is your brand more than…

Your brand is more than a logo on a business card. Your brand, what it stands for and how it is presented, conveys many unspoken messages to your potential customers and your position in the marketplace.

Developing a strong brand identity for your business is a rewarding challenge and ultimately aims to improve your business bottom line and positioning in the market. To create a meaningful brand that resonates with your customers will require understanding and a focus on important aspects of your business.

Common elements that make up a brand include:

  1. The Brandmark (this is the logo or symbol that identifies your product/ service)
  2. Visual Language (the colours used, typefaces, graphical elements)
  3. Brand Personality (Give your brand human characteristics customers will relate to-Is it cheeky or serious, cute or clever?)
  4. Tone of voice (adopt the tone of voice in communications suitable for your brand personality)
  5. Market positioning (premium and upmarket with higher price point or low cost value product/service)
  6. Customer care (how do you deliver your customers expectations?)
  7. IP Protection

A favourite for discussion of successful world brands we can all learn from is Apple Inc. Apple has successfully taken branding to the highest stratosphere permeating all levels of customer experience.

ipod advertisement

Dynamic, young, funky imagery that fits the Apple brand.

Apple’s branding is young, dynamic, energetic, modern, innovative. From the product design- the look and feel of an ipod in your hand; store design and layout- exciting more like an entertainment precinct;  packaging- clean, simple, stylish; communications- full of the Apple persona; through to the enthusiastic employees who are brand ambassadors rather than salespeople. You don’t get this result with a just a logo on a business card!

Brand personality

The Apple persona contrasted against the PC!

Makeover your brand

Your business projects an image to your customers. It will tell your customers many messages before engaging with you. Your brand is much more than a logo on your business card. A well thought out brand identity will carry messages about how you do business, what is important to you and give clues about whether you are expensive or cheap just by the visual imagery and messages it contains.

Many well established brands undertake regular updates of brandmark and identity to ensure they are still ‘tuned in’ with the customer base. A brand refresh can be subtle, refresh the visual appearance, and to the average customer largely goes unnoticed. It can also be ‘rolled’ out in stages. See the example of a brand refresh for Dolby below. The changes are subtle and hard to notice unless the two are side by side. However the new refreshed brandmark updates the company’s image necessary for its business. 

dolby brand refresh

Dolby brand refresh

What will be noticed however is when a brand shows signs of being unloved and out of step with the customer. At this stage a bigger ‘makeover’ may be needed, sometimes calling for a complete new approach of a rebrand. The example below shows a major change in the visual presentation for the BP brandmark also reflecting on a new emphasis within the business.
BP logo

Rebrand BP logo

Tips for reviewing your brand
1. What do you promise your customer? Has that changed or been undermined by your competition?
 2. Are all your messages consistent? Create a style guide.
3. Evaluate your visual presentation.
4. Is all your content up to date?
5. Are there new ways of reaching your customers? eg.social media or sponsorship of events