Intuitive, attractive and functional design is the most powerful way for a store to stand out against the competition, grow and build customer satisfaction—and drive repeat business.
What kind of design? Marketing design, interior design or even fashion design? The answer is all three kinds of design are vitally important to the success of your store.
I am not a designer by trade or education, but I do notice and feel the effects of design everywhere. Recently, I took a vacation to Miami Beach and had the opportunity to stay at two different hotels: the Setai Miami Beach and the W South Beach. They are both upscale hotels, with very attractive designs and motifs, but they have completely different design concepts.
Feeling the Effects of Design
The W is about sharp edges, bright colors, white on most surfaces and boom-boom music playing around the grounds. The Setai uses muted tones and colors, soft edges, many quiet areas and relaxing music.
At the Setai, the experience on the beach was relaxing, and I was able to stay that way all day. When I was lying on the beach at the W, after a few hours, I started to feel visually tired and just a little tense. The Setai has beige beach umbrellas; the W has magenta and white ones. It occurred to me that the harsher colors of the W’s umbrellas were wearing me out and detracting from the experience. I just couldn’t keep looking at them.
If the color of beach umbrellas could affect my experience that much, then surely other aspects of design are equally, or maybe more, important. I thought back to when I opened my camera store in 2008. At that time, digital photography and Internet selling had virtually wiped out all the camera stores. Over a fifteen-year period, their number decreased from more than 10,000 to a few hundred, and there were very few still profitable.
Even those close to me thought I was crazy for opening a brand-new 5,000-square-foot retail camera superstore. However, my store was all about customer experience. I now can see clearly that a large part of that experience was centered on design. Within five years of our opening, we were one of the largest single-location camera stores in the country. I would call that a redesign and rebranding success.
Most of the camera stores to that point were small, town center or strip mall stores. They looked much like hardware stores, except replace the screwdrivers and screws with cameras and film. My store had 30-foot-high ceilings, bright lighting, and products merchandised and displayed like jewelry. So, was the build and redesign of the store’s interior the major factor in our success?
According to Maria Savina, principal interior designer at Blue Owl Design: “Yes, the interior redesign of your store was likely the most important factor in its success. Retail design can be an extremely powerful marketing force. People rarely remember the details in a store; they remember how it made them feel and the experience they had there. And that gets them to buy more and come back again.
“The exterior facade, window displays, interior design and merchandising must be both functional and deliver the story of the brand,” she adds. “You can manipulate the colors, forms and shapes of your design to deliver the brand image or message. If you think about an Apple Store or a Starbucks, you immediately visualize what their stores look like. You instantly get their brand message. I have had several retail clients’ store sales go up 50% or more after an interior store and exterior facade redesign.”
My camera superstore also got a fresh modern look with our logo. We also completely changed the way we marketed ourselves. We shifted away from old-style newspaper print ads to using social media, personal branding, employee advocacy and loyalty programs to advertise what we did. So, was the rebranding and redesign of our logo the major factor in our success?
According to Nicholas Kraus, CEO, Kraus Marketing: “Yes, rebranding and redesigning your marketing assets were likely the most important factors in the success of your business. We say that you can use touch points to complete a strategy, or you can use touch points to truly touch people. Visual communication (design) is very important to the success of the campaign. With poor design, some of your targeted demographic will subconsciously ignore your ad. Others will consciously say, ‘This company just doesn’t get me.’ When great design is paired with meaningful messaging, the targeted demographic immediately connects with your company.
“We rebranded a $10M IT company a few years back. Their logo was made by a friend in Microsoft Word, and their website wasn’t much better,” Kraus adds. “After a rebrand that included their logo and site, the company grew to more than $50M in revenue in a few short years. They confirmed their success was in large part due to a redesigned brand that portrayed them as the thought-leading company they had become.”
My store staff also got a fashion upgrade. We previously asked staff to “dress nicely.” I changed that and fitted them in fashionable blue, button-down shirts branded with our new logo, stylish jeans and shoes. We wanted our customers to easily identify store staff and feel comfortable around them. For myself, I previously came to work in jeans and a T-shirt. I started wearing designer sports jackets, fitted shirts, pocket squares and dress shoes. That style became a large part of my personal brand, which was the most powerful advertising force we had. So, was our new fashion statement the major factor in our success?
According to Natalie Decleve of Natty Style: “Yes, the fashion upgrade was a crucial element in your success. Personal style becomes more important for an entrepreneur, because your image is your calling card. When you are representing your personal brand, clothing and the way you present yourself become one of the first things people notice. It’s important to think about how you’d like to be recognized. And how your personal style is reflective of your business.
“I’ve had clients come to me before big presentations or travel conferences when they want to look their best,” she adds. “Even if you’re not looking to make a statement, dressing appropriately helps colleagues see you rather than being distracted by poor clothing choices. One client told me he found the confidence to pitch a huge project to some TV producers because he was no longer self-conscious. Another client swears she got promoted because she started dressing better at the office. I’m a big believer in dressing well; you can spend your energy on your job rather than worrying about what to wear. Dressing well is such a mood booster; it can’t help but boost productivity too!”
The Keys: Interior, Marketing and Fashion Design
I think it’s clear that design elements—interior, marketing and fashion—are huge factors for the growth and success of your store.
Is it time for an interior redesign, rebranding and fashion upgrade for you, your staff and your business? If you aren’t sure, bring in an expert and see what they have to say. It might be your best chance to make money in these challenging times.