Chris Weigand Design – Focus, Web & Blog Updates

I’ve spent the last two days refreshing our website. As much as I like to read, and write (obviously), I felt the sight was just to overbearing. I reduced the number of pages and tried to streamline the site to be more in line with our philosophy of simplicity.

The revamped site also is the first look as we start to focus our business. We’re evolving to focus on retail design, and specifically helping independent retailers. We feel that we have a lot of creativity, experience and resources to offer this growing market that has been previously underserved.

You’ll now find links to this blog and our Pinterest page as well, in the ‘CONNECT’ tab. Click here to visit our website.

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Since I removed a lot of content from the website, I didn’t want to just throw it out, so now if you look at the menu on this blog, you’ll notice a few new pages for you to read.

Maxims are our roadmap for how we conduct business. This page gives clients the chance to read what we stand for and what to expect from us.

In addition to our maxims, we operate with the ‘triple-bottom-line’ of people, planet and profit in everything we do. We are a business, and our goal is to grow into a world-class design firm. My hope is that in just a few years we grow into an awesome team of in-house talent that is having a hell of a good time designing really cool stuff, for freakishly great clients. In order to do that our compass has to point in the right direction. Being good socially aware, environmentally concerned, business people is going to assure our compass is giving us a bearing towards success. Check out the pages to learn more.

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Please, if you haven’t already, think about your business and implement these sort of practices. I’ve got no problem if you want to use what we’ve written as a spring board for your team. And if you have any suggestions on how we can improve our roadmap, let us know.

Look for upcoming articles here that delve into these in more detail. Also we’ll examine how we can help independent retailers in preparation for GlobalShop 2014 in Las Vegas next month.

Thanks for your support.

-Chris Weigand

President, Chris Weigand Design, LLC

Peninsula, OH, USA

Chris Weigand Design is a retail design consultancy based in northeast Ohio. We design and specify displays, retail graphics and retail interiors. We are also expert project managers and can source virtually anything we design. Retail experience is an extension of your brand and is the first touch-point your customers have with your product. Don’t leave anything to chance. Contact us today to give your brand a voice in the process of merchandising your product or service.

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Follow Us On Pinterest

We’ve updated our Pinterest page with new pins in a wide array of categories from Color to Cars, Fashion to Design. Follow us today to see all our latest inspiration and trends.

Chris Weigand Design Pinterest Page (click here)

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Chris Weigand Design is a retail design consultancy, helping clients with display, fixture, packaging, graphic and interior design services. We’re inspired by style, simplicity, function, nature, innovation and creativity. Contact us today so we can help you with your next project.

This Week’s Random Retail Sights

While surveying stores for a client we snapped few photos of things that caught our eye the other day. First off the color blue is picking up in Spring where it left off in winter. The Nordstrom windows we saw were a great homage to the color and got us at least dreaming of warmer weather, even if Mother Nature is not cooperating.

Nordstrom jumps into Spring with a celebration of the color blue in their store windows...

Nordstrom jumps into Spring with a celebration of the color blue in their store windows…

 

 

...if only this translated to warmer temperatures outside. We're ready for Spring.

…if only this translated to warmer temperatures outside. We’re ready for Spring.

Passing by J. Jill we were smitten by their exterior store branding; specifically we love the simplicity of their logo. The repetitious shapes and OCD-like attention to detail is fantastic. Graphic design at its best if you ask us.

J. Jill logo is a study in simplicity, repetition and composition.

J. Jill logo is a study in simplicity, repetition and composition.

Lastly we can’t help ourselves but linger in the Apple Store and take in all the clean lined products. Of particular interest to this author was the Bose SoundLink Mini Bluetooth Speaker. It’s an extraordinary example of industrial design that oozes simplicity and quality. Put your hand on it and you can feel the bass. Lift it up and it has a good heft to it. Call us stodgy or boring, but in a world filled with common, jelly bean bluetooth speakers we’ll gladly take this little Bose speaker with us on the go or in the office.

Bose SoundLink Mini Bluetooth portable speaker is a real subtle gem. We love the clean lines, textures and heft of the unit.

Bose SoundLink Mini Bluetooth portable speaker is a real subtle gem. We love the clean lines, textures and heft of the unit.

We were also enamored to a certain extent by the Bose SoundTouch Portable speaker as well. Of all things the remote was pretty nifty too.

Bose SoundTouch Portable Wi-Fi system. Simple no-nonsense design.

Bose SoundTouch Portable Wi-Fi system. Simple no-nonsense design.

Bose SoundTouch remote, photo courtesy Bose website www.bose.com

Bose SoundTouch remote, photo courtesy Bose website http://www.bose.com

Enjoy.

 

Chris Weigand Design, LLC is a full service retail design consultancy. Contact us today at (330) 858-8925 to talk about how we can help you with your next retail project.

How Design Adds Value To Retail Projects

Hiring a designer for your retail project can be a difficult decision. You may have already spent a lot of time developing something awesome only to find yourself stuck and unsure of what to do next. Maybe you haven’t even started yet. Regardless of where you are at in the process of developing a retail strategy for your product or service, you can benefit from the help of a professional retail designer.

I’ve been working in the retail design industry for nearly two decades and have been involved in the process on both sides: as a designer and a client. While you may not think you need a designer, or think you can’t afford it, I urge you to look at your project as a whole and then decide. Design is often overlooked and most brands scoff at the idea of actually paying for professional design work. But consider the decisions that are made during the design phase will influence most, if not all, of the downstream process AND their associated costs. The overall cost of retail projects can run from a few hundred to a few million dollars. The cost for design typically is a small fraction of that. The decision to invest in professional help may be a very wise one.

There are a variety of designers you may hire for your project depending on your needs, such as industrial, graphic and packaging designers. You may even hire a consulting firm that has one or more of these types that can be brought to bear. The various aspects of the design process are somewhat universal across disciplines. Designers bring value in many ways. It goes without saying that they are extremely creative, and know how to think like designers in everything they do. They are artistic, innovative and imaginative as well. Here are some other areas I’ll highlight that designers excel at, all of which will help your bottom line and assure your next project is an incredible success.

Designers know how to research.

Even if you know exactly what you want, a good designer will still do their homework to assure you are getting the best possible creative solution. Designers are naturally inquisitive, that’s why they got into the profession to begin with; they wanted to know why and how things worked so they could then create something new themselves. Research is a part of every project. It can be informal or formal depending on the project needs. Designers are trained to find answers utilizing a variety of means from store surveys, guest interviews, scientific research, trend research, among others. From all that information the designer can craft reports, trend boards, and presentations to assure clients are making informed design decisions. Many of the clients we work with hire us to solely for research services.

Designers provide comprehensive solutions.

Design isn’t done in a vacuum. It’s not drawing something pretty then walking away. A good designer will not only design something that is beautiful and functional, the solution will executable and work with the vast majority of end users. Retail design requires many considerations from manufacturing to installation; from how guests interact with the solution to how your brand is perceived in the marketplace. We even consider what happens at the end of life for whatever we’ve designed. Throughout the process and once a design is complete the designer can provide you with realistic computer renderings in case you need to go sell your solution. When it comes time for manufacturing, they can provide the specs necessary to turn your dream into reality. You may have thought of everything but when this much is on the line, hiring a designer more than pays for itself by way of comprehensive solutions.

They know how to get things done.

Once the creative solution is complete and the specs are done, the designer can help your team during the production process. They can help you get and evaluate production quotes and oversee production to assure everything is being made to your specifications. The designer is also valuable for answering questions from the various entities involved in making and executing your retail solution. If a problem arises, the designer can often come up with a solution on the spot so your project avoids costly delays.

Designers are great mediators.

Designers, especially industrial designers, tend to be the one common touch point between the client, sales, marketing, manufacturing, sourcing…on and on. Virtually everyone in the process works with the design team. And whether you like it or not, everyone basically has their own interests at heart, at least at a low-level. The designer is a natural-born mediator that is able to take complex situations and craft solutions that pretty much make everyone happy. Designers are extraordinary communicators, and salesmen, who can work with various parties to reach a consensus. It goes without saying that designers are excellent at managing projects as well; making sure everything goes off without a hitch. Given the opportunity, I feel this is probably the one area where clients can benefit the most from hiring a designer. They are professional problem solvers, and that goes for more than just the task at hand.

Designers are focused on the solution.

A good designer does what is right for your brand, organization and the world. An independent design consultant makes design and material decisions based on research and the needs of everyone involved; even beyond the scope of what the client has outlined. Good design is holistic and well thought out. You may be hesitant to pay for design, or you may be getting “free” design from your vendors. Consider pushing the “competition” portion of your project downstream to allow the focus to be on your needs, and you gain a valuable team asset, the designer, in the process. An independent designer isn’t worried about whether he or she will get a purchase order or something can be made in-house. They are focused on creating delightful solutions that are manufacture-able and executable at retail to the benefit of brand, retailer, consumer and world.

There are other ways a retail designer can help with your project; the ones I outlined here are just a few. Whether you are an independent retailer, a consumer product brand or a larger retailer, considering talking to a designer for your next project. I guarantee you that the value they bring will far outweigh the cost.

If you are interested in learning more about what our team can do to help with your next retail project, contact me at chris@chrisweiganddesign.com or by phone at (330) 858-8926.

—–

Chris Weigand 

President, Chris Weigand Design

Peninsula, Ohio

We are a full service design consultancy specializing in retail design solutions for independent and chain retailers. We provided clients with research, design, sourcing and  project management services that assure they are getting world class solutions that delight their guests and enhance their brand in the marketplace.

What Retailers Can Learn From Aldi

The facade is modern and simple; devoid of plants and random sale items.

The facade is modern and simple; devoid of plants and random sale items.

While working on a research project I figured I finally had a reason to stop in and check out our relatively new local Aldi store. For whatever reason I hadn’t found the time to stop previously, despite the fact I live and breathe retail as a designer and consumer. I will say, I was pleasantly surprised and found the store to not be quite what I expected. While I only had time to do a cursory walk though, I came away with a strong positive impression and noticed several things Aldi does well.

Fixture Free Merchandising

As a designer I always (half heatedly) joked that consumers would buy anything from a card board box cut open on the floor if the price was right. Turns out my first impression as I stepped through the doors of Aldi was of exactly that. Wide aisles are flanked by products essentially sitting in the boxes they were shipped in. A warehouse store for food. While this form of merchandising may be how they do retail in Europe (Aldi is a German based company), it’s not as common on this side of the Atlantic. And those that try over here usually provide a middling shopping experience at best. In Aldi I observed some fixed and wheeled racks, and even climate controlled cases, but it was not unusual to see product neatly organized on the floor or by the unadorned checkout. The look screams efficiency, good prices on products and no-frills.

I make my living designing retail displays, fixtures and environments and I’m telling you: you don’t always need it.

This speaks to one of my fundamental goals as a designer: don’t design, and subsequently produce, displays and fixtures unless you need them. Far too often salesmen and marketers focus on displays and fixtures to salvage products and brands. I make my money by designing retail displays, fixtures and environments and I’m telling you, you don’t always need it. Ask yourself, would people purchase my product if I just laid it out in a cardboard box on the floor? What is my brand, and how do I want guests to experience it? How do my displays and fixtures complete or enhance the experience? While just throwing stuff on the floor is an extreme example, don’t be afraid to really question what you do and don’t need to win at retail. Start with your brand, product, packaging and then yes if you need to finish the deal, take a look at the display.

Product is simply placed in PDQ's on wheeled metal racks. It doesn't get more simple than this.

Product is simply placed in PDQ’s on wheeled metal racks. It doesn’t get more simple than this.

The lack of gondolas makes for great sight lines and a straightforward shopping experience.

The lack of gondolas makes for great sight lines and a straightforward shopping experience.

Simple Signage

The simple, less is more, European-inspired theme carries over to the signage throughout the store, inside and out. A simple multi-level metal C-channel holds product information and pricing in quick to read black and yellow print. Unobtrusive right angle flags (RAF’s) provide category information.

As subtle as the aisle signage is, the large format graphics above the freezer and dairy cases command attention in a clear manner. Giant letters communicate the brand message to guests, and large photos of produce delight. The images and copy can be seen from anywhere in the store. It’s one of the first things guests notice when they walk in the door. Ultimately if you don’t know what to do from a retail environment standpoint then fall back on large format graphics with great art, copy or photography. You really cannot go wrong.

The produce aisle features attractive LED down lighting.

The produce aisle features attractive LED down lighting.

The Aldi brand message is readily communicated with large format graphics and copy above climate controlled cases.

The Aldi brand message is readily communicated with large format graphics and copy above climate controlled cases.

Small Footprint

Aldi is a really small store, especially for being a grocer. I’m not sure there is much depth of product offering, but that probably doesn’t matter to the consumers who visit time and time again. I could easily see every corner of the store from the entrance. Overall it is an open and airy feel that you never get in other grocery stores. The aisles are wide and very orderly. Despite the store’s small size, I never felt cramped walking along. Most stores with that small a footprint would feel compelled to jam as much product (signs, departments, fixtures, etc.) in the store to ruin the experience. Aldi understands why it exists.

The produce aisle features attractive LED down lighting.

The produce aisle features attractive LED down lighting.

Brand

Which leads to my last point, Aldi knows their brand and it plays out in all the details from parking lot to check out. This is the true test of a good retailer. “Simply Smarter Shopping” defines the Aldi brand and experience. Am I going there for everything? Probably not, but what I do buy there will be, presumably, at a good price and decent quality without any fuss.

While the feel is decidedly warehouse there’s nothing overtly cheap. Packaging art does all of the heavy lifting which saves a lot of money. This saves cost by eliminating the need to produce a lot of random signage and displays; these lead to clutter which in turn undermines their existence in the first place. Aldi breaks that cycle which allows it to stay on brand and reduce expenses.

I’m not the only one who’s impressed. The retailer has been picking up good press both here and on the other side of the pond. I for one was skeptical, or at the very least unsure, but I was delighted to see what a great looking, and functioning store it is. I will gladly use these, and other examples of best practices I discovered at Aldi, in the future. It would be worth your while to consider doing the same.

-Chris

No frills check lanes make for a quick check out experience.

No frills check lanes make for a quick check out experience.

Retailing Florida’s Paradise Coast

As we returned to frigid northeast Ohio from the relative tropics of southwest Florida I would like provide a brief overview of our trip. We made time to visit stores and galleries over the course of our time in Naples. If you’re interested in visiting ‘Florida’s Paradise Coast’ for yourself, check out the visitor’s bureau website here.

The 5th avenue shopping district is the hub for quaint boutiques, galleries and restaurants. Park your car and take a stroll.

The 5th avenue shopping district is the hub for quaint boutiques, galleries and restaurants. Park your car and take a stroll.

I’ve been visiting southwest Florida my entire life. For the last two decades we found a “hometown” away from home in Naples. It has been interesting to see the region, centered on route 41, grow over the years. There are definitely a proliferation of strip malls and residential developments. Before the economy receded traffic and buildup was out of control. In my opinion the recession tempered things a bit, which means you can get around a little easier (still it can be a pain most of the time). For the retail market as far as I can tell you still have an overabundance of stores, many of which are in new locations. Which unfortunately means there are whole shopping centers just sitting empty. While this isn’t the case everywhere, you can still see it here and there; a symptom that is evident back here at home as well. Seemingly fine strip malls, and quaint shopping villages sit vacant.

But that’s not to say it is all doom and gloom, the area has a vibrant active lifestyle that definitely caters to the better off, but even us average folk have plenty of places to shop or at least window shop. After all these years of visiting, I could finally see myself living in the area, at least for a few months a year; if I had the means (which I don’t). For anyone who likes to explore, discover and go shopping, Naples is a great place to go. Here are some places to consider visiting.

5th Avenue

At the intersection where Route 41 turns into 5th Avenue you’ll find what is probably the number one shopping destination in town. There is a mix of art galleries, boutique shops and fine dinning establishments. During peak season (think December to April), especially when the weather is nice, go down to 5th Avenue in the evening for drinks, dinner and then a stroll amongst the shops and galleries. There is a nice mix of touristy shops as well. Each merchant uniquely displays their products and the overall feel is in line with the local feel.

Tin City

Within walking distance from 5th Avenue, over on 12th Street on the water you’ll see a cluster of ramshackle brightly colored buildings set amongst a makeshift marina: that’s Tin City. It’s an old fishing complex that was converted into a rambling indoor mall of sorts. While it’s at the opposite end of the spectrum from 5th Avenue, every visitor to Naples should stop. From t-shirts, to candy to seashells and wine, there is a little bit of everything and the kids will love exploring as much as you will. To say the style is eclectic is an understatement but it is a delightful change of pace compared to sterile malls and mass retail.  The authenticity is great, and while there are some design disasters from a retail standpoint, everything seems to work and add to the charm. It’s also the perfect place to grab a beer and eat seafood while watching boats go by from one of the two restaurants. There are a few real gems in the place, including Naples Soap Company.

A trip to Naples isn't complete until you visit Tin City. Here you can see shells and other accessories simply displayed on block and board shelves at Shells Etc.

A trip to Naples isn’t complete until you visit Tin City. Here you can see shells and other accessories simply displayed on block and board shelves at Shells Etc.

Old Naples (3rd Street South)

Hopping back in the car, zig zag south to Broad and 3rd Street to find a touch of “Old Naples”. Park in front of gallery row and set out on foot to discover shops, fine art galleries and streets lined with old, brightly painted, Floridian buildings. With eagerness I stumbled upon the Plaza on Third Street. It was a wonderful, quaint outdoor mall with tons of shop and restaurant spaces. Only problem was it was virtually abandoned. Cupping my hands I peered into empty windows, imagining what it must have been like in its hey day. Blue tile looking back at me from under a layer of dust in a sushi bar. Now lifeless windows holding only the fashion ghosts of days past.  Music still played from courtyard speakers, adding an eerie touch to my stroll.  I counted maybe two stores still in business. It was really weird and really a shame because the space is incredible from a retail standpoint.  I’d gladly trade any number of strip malls or mass retail outlets to see this place flourishing again. I suppose guests have moved on to other locations – but it’s such a clean canvas – it would be interesting to work with, crafting something amazing again.

There are still plenty of shops and other points of interest in the sleepy old neighborhood. It’s definitely worth a stop and a nice rest from the hustle and bustle to the north. Take the area in on foot.

The Plaza on Third is one of the nicest retail spots in Naples. The problem is it's vacant right now.

The Plaza on Third is one of the nicest retail spots in Naples. The problem is it is vacant right now.

What I call "Old Naples" features a gallery row - opposing galleries divided by Broad Avenue. Park in front and take a you can take in the entire neighborhood on foot.

“Old Naples” features a gallery row – opposing galleries divided by Broad Avenue. Park in front and take a you can take in the entire neighborhood on foot.

Expensive cars are ubiquitous in southeast Florida. Though a Ferrari, like this one parked on gallery row, is still fairly rare. Usually you're just stuck in traffic with Bentleys and Aston Martins.

Expensive cars are ubiquitous in southeast Florida. Though a Ferrari, like this one parked on gallery row, is still fairly rare. Usually you’re just stuck in traffic with Bentleys and Aston Martins.

Route 41 (Tamiami Trail)

Bisecting the area north of downtown – beach areas on one side, inland property on the other – is Route 41, the Tamiami Trail. It’s a legendary road that will take you all the way to Miami, with a stop off at Everglades National Park along the way if you backtrack south and east.

Driving north you’ll see that through the years they’ve built store upon store, plaza upon plaza all along the route. If you need the more pedestrian things in life, you’ll likely find yourself waiting at a light on Route 41 to get to Walgreens or Publix (and about 10,000 other stores). It’s a real mix of classes; it’s not uncommon to see a Bentley or Aston Martin parked next your Toyota in the Walmart parking lot. One example of the build up: we spotted three Publix within about 5 miles of each other on Route 41. Apparently there are plenty of people in the area to warrant that much retail.

Here are a few photos from local stores, including some examples of letting the product do the work. As you know, I don’t think you always need displays to sell product.

I love these simple frosted acrylic signs in Publix, along with the freestanding letters.

I love these simple frosted acrylic signs in Publix, along with the freestanding letters.

Publix does a nice job letting product be the hero on their end cap. Also their visual merchandising is interesting while still packing in the product.

Publix does a nice job letting product be the hero on their end cap. Also their visual merchandising is interesting while still packing in the product.

The Essentia water end cap at Publix plays up the product packaging to great effect.

The Essentia water end cap at Publix plays up the product packaging to great effect.

From the PGA Superstore, a good example of letting the packaging do the work. You don't need a display and graphics to tell each product is different but all of them in the block are Calloway golf balls.

From the PGA Superstore, a good example of letting the packaging do the work. You don’t need a display and graphics to tell each product is different but all of them in the block are Calloway golf balls.

Waterside Shops

Tucked away off of Seagate Drive and Route 41 is a real, albeit small, outdoor fashion mall. Back here in Ohio, indoor malls have given way to outdoor malls over the last two decades; which totally befuddles me. Why would you want to shop outdoors in an area where it snows eight months of the year?  Now in Florida, I can see the allure of shopping outdoors, and the Waterside Shops do not disappoint. The list of stores is canted towards the high of high end: Tiffany & Co., Brooks Brothers, Coach. Everything is merchandised in a classy manner without much needless embellishment. This is definitely the best place to go window shopping, as the windows rival any that you’ll see in the “big city” or cosmopolitan coasts.

Just try remember which blue Bentley in the parking garage is yours.

Waterside shops feature high end retailers and plenty of window eye candy for shopper and designer alike.

Waterside shops feature high end retailers and plenty of window eye candy for shopper and designer alike.

The Nordstrom at Waterside has an e-bar which I'd never seen before in our Nordstrom back home. It's a nice little coffee shop at the store entrance.

The Nordstrom at Waterside has an e-bar which I’d never seen before in our Nordstrom back home. It’s a nice little coffee shop at the store entrance.

The Ralph Lauren window at Waterside provides an exploration vibe, perfect for southeast Florida.

The Ralph Lauren window at Waterside provides an exploration vibe, perfect for southeast Florida.

There are plenty more places to explore and satisfy your entertainment, dining and shopping fix beyond what I’ve written about here. We did not go this time, but there is a great indoor mall right off of Route 41 in case that’s your thing as well. The best part is that the weather is almost always perfect so getting out isn’t always a chore like it is back home. The retailers have a large population to serve and it appears that they are doing a good job giving the people what they want. Beyond retail there is plenty to see and do including fishing, parks, art shows….whatever you could want really. Combine all of that with pristine beaches and you’ve got the fixings for a fantastic visit.

If you have any questions, would like to learn more or if you’re a retailer is interested in working with our consultancy, please don’t hesitate to contact me.  Email chris@chrisweiganddesign.com

Check us out on the web at www.chrisweiganddesign.com

-Chris