“Design is the silent ambassador of your brand.” (Paul Rand)
As the adage states, ‘form follows function’, a truth recognised in nature and born out in architecture and design.
So, when it comes to considering what that means in retail design, what must it be then that differentiates one retailer from another?
A successful retail store works for both the consumer and the staff, a place which encourages interaction with people and its environment, a place where people are comfortable and one which inspires and stimulates, simply making shoppers happy to be there; that works because happy people spend money!
Design is a fascinating subject which, should not simply follow a formula, another statement that comes to mind from Paul Rand is; “Design can be art. Design can be aesthetics. Design is so simple, that's why it is so complicated”. The creative approach should question norms and challenge convention. For a retailer, their store design and identity is a fundamental part of their DNA, and should be the embodiment of its brand.
Great retail design should be authentic, and true to the values of the brand. The differentiators through design must surely be key to the shopper’s experience, interaction with it, their emotional connection to it, and ultimately be a key factor the success of a retailer.
Form does indeed follow function, yet excellent design can also influence how function can follow its form.
‘Design should remain honest to the original brief, ensuring the integrity of the concept is not diluted during the development process. It can be refined, evolve and be finessed and this should be encouraged. But the story you are trying to tell should never change to suit secondary objectives. A successful project will communicate the story without any signage to assist in the telling of it.’
Daniel J A Wolfenden BAHons Dip(Arch) ARB, Milk Leisure
It is often said that to be iconic you have to be the first, best or only! In todays crowded and fast pace market it is difficult to be any of these so the importance of Iconic design takes on a leading role to bring success for companies.
Brands such as Rolex, DHL, Mercedes, Tommy Hilfiger and Starbucks are iconic.
They have a primary shape and colour with their logo which we recognise before any written word but iconic design is rarely just about the design element alone. We believe they must deliver on many levels such as the product/service itself, the environment in which it appears’ its tone of voice, set new standards/ trends and stay in the memory of those who see it or use it.
Above all it stands the test of time and is instantly recognisable to consumers and shoppers.
Guy Vaughan, Grounded Shopper Insights
Some of the world’s most successful companies use design as the foundation of their business. They carefully control the look, feel and identity of their products. They employ design across every aspect of their activities, from branding to shop interiors and staff uniforms.
In companies such as these, design will often drive technological development and innovation. By placing design at the heart of product development- rather than just responding to market forces – such companies are able to forge a unique identity. The value of these brands does not accumulate overnight, but is carefully nurtured and defended.
London Design Museum
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