Brand New Beginnings

We are assuming spring will show up someday here in Ohio. And with spring comes spring cleaning. And while we clean up the home office, and get rid of the random stuff laying around taking up space, we also start thinking about the rest of this year and the future. Fresh starts, new beginnings.

We’re going to make a push this year to work directly with more brands. Any time we can focus on brand, and solving marketing challenges by directly partnering with them, it’s going to be more effective, creative and engaging.

We have over two decades of working with brands, from large ones with fancy websites and in thousands of doors to small ones that barely have two dimes to rub together. It’s about making connections. It’s about writing your brand story and communicating that to the world in tangible, meaningful ways.

That’s what we do for you.

You are people, your customers are people. We connect people.

My touchy feely take may not be enough to prompt you to pick up the phone, so here are some service details. We like to truly partner with your brand so that we can understand how you operate, what your goals are (or help you craft those goals), and understand your brand and customers. Then we work with you to create meaningful connections, wherever the world interacts (or should interact) with your brand.

So, there’s nothing proprietary about creatively solving problems, or seizing opportunities if you’re hard core “glass is half full” kinda person. Thinking about this I’m going to frame up what we do in this list below. But every brand and situation is unique; this is the toolbox we have at our disposal, and kinda the order we work in:

  • relationship building – understanding your business, brand, challenges
  • research – trends, marketplace, materials, society, shopper mindset, culture
  • strategy – goals, ideation, role-play, finances, sourcing, foundation building
  • framing – articulating challenges, inspiration, reference,
  • concept – play, mock-up, long walks on the beach
  • design – visualization, human factors, ergonomics, user experience, wrestling
  • making – sourcing, pricing, specifications, engineering, programming
  • execution – construction, events, going live, maintenance
  • relationship building – identifying and understanding new opportunities

Straight up, these are the skills we bring:

  • strategy – design, marketing, in-store, online
  • graphic design – packaging, signage, web, environment
  • industrial design – retail, product, human factors, ergonomics, packaging
  • interior design – space planning, retail, some commercial and hospitality
  • UX (user experience) – web, interactive, retail
  • digital – web, SEO, digital marketing strategy, social media
  • interactive – kiosk design, event planning, in-store digital strategy
  • editorial – copywriting, social media, editing
  • support – creative capacity, sales support, sourcing

Services are services, and process is process. We try to keep it simple. We want this to be fun. We’d love it if we can meet with your brand team to find out how we’d approach connecting your brand to the world and see if we’d be a great fit. You can call me at (330) 858-8926 and let’s discuss. Thanks.

Now if we could just get spring to show up…

-Chris

visit us at http://www.chrisweiganddesign.com.

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New(ish) Inline Fixture at Target is Spot On

A little while back, on one of my several-times-a-week trips to Target, I spotted this Hearth & Hand upgrade to the Home department. Chip & Joanna Gaine’s brand Magnolia is pretty mainstream. We’ve even worked on a Magnolia project (so it really must be mainstream lol). So having an offshoot in Target isn’t surprising as the marketing arc completes itself.

I really liked the execution of the brand at mass retail. I stopped and (secretly…shhhh) snapped a few photos to share with you all. I don’t know who designed this but I think they did a decent job of creating a stage for Magnolia’s curated product offering of home decor and lifestyle products.

The overall look is clean and simple with a palette consisting of clear coated steel, matte black powder coat and a light natural (pine?) wood. Also there’s a nifty wood door looking panel on the show end cap. It give a contemporary look while honoring the authentic look that honors the brand. Shelves and fixtures are arranged, off of a standard gondola backbone, in a way that evokes “boutique”; once again, on brand.

Have these materials been used before?

You betcha.

Do they still work?

Yes indeed.

A hundred years from now retail designers will be using clear coated steel and natural wood together and it’ll work perfectly.

What would I fix? Really I’d fix the merchandising…we need some taller products in the boutique areas inline, where the shelves step down to create a stage. Instead we’re left with book holders or some other low product. And on the show end cap all the product is low. Gimmie a plant or something tall to keep my eye moving.

Kuddos to the framed hanging headers. I do this all the time on concepts because it’s simple and looks great – gets the message across in an elegant way allowing everyone to focus on brand not fixture. Nothing about this fixture is overdone, and the details – exposed welds, nods to board and baton siding, and barn doors – all work together to provide delight without stealing attention from the product.

I love seeing the exposed spot welds on the well proportioned shelf frames that are all meticulously lined up. Like saying “we’re artsy, yet organized”.

Spot on.

-Chris

 


 

Chris Weigand is a professional designer and artist (and politician and…) who operates a fun little boutique retail design consultancy in the middle of a National Park in Ohio. He loves shopping, or at least window shopping, whenever he can. If you’d like to have Chris and his wicked awesome partners work on putting art and strategy to your brand at retail or online, contact him today at (330) 858-8926. We are totally not affiliated with Target or Magnolia, we just dig the way they’re doing things.

I <3 Pet Store Signage

An impromptu stop at my local Pet Supply Plus reminded me of how much I love simple graphics. And pet stores, with their categorization by pet type is a no-brainer for fun icon driven way finding graphics. Other chains such as Petsmart and PetCo are just as adept at this. It makes shopping for pet supplies, and pets for that matter, more fun in my opinion.

In PSP they use simple one color (plus white) graphics with pet icons and simple copy such as “CAT”. In a world with overwrought design direction it’s refreshing to see something so simple make it to retail, creating a pool of calm in what would otherwise be a visually clamorous environment.

Breathe.

Ahh…

The store also had a cool community themed endcap, which presumably is customized based on each store location. DO THIS IN YOUR STORE!!! Our research shows that people want a better sense of community in their lives. This endcap is just an example. Do what is right for your store and your community…a coffee desk, amp’d up bulletin board, in-line display…inside…outside…but do something to break away from the big-box photocopy mode.

Lastly I’ll pick on all retailers for a minute. There was a neat Kurgo display that obviously someone spent a lot of great effort and money on, only to be marred by a bunch of repetitive paper call outs on the scanner plates. I don’t know what the answer is but please why do we have to do this. Maybe an extruded price strip across all the hooks and alternate between price and a “new” callout. Maybe don’t use white on the callouts, maybe black or chocolate to match in store, or blue or orange to match the brand. This is 100% just me though and my need for organization and simplicity. So don’t get too worked up over it.

The Kurgo display was pretty rad though with its subtle topographical easter egg on its shroud that keen eyes will delight in discovering. I’d love to find out how they did that (both made it and got it past the bean counters).

I love chain pet stores as a source of inspiration, especially for graphic design and way finding. Think about including them in your pool of resources for inspiration on your next brand or retail project.

And you can always pick up some food for your furry friend while you’re at it.

-Chris


Chris Weigand is a retail experience expert, lover of simple design solutions, and a cat person. His views are his own and he receives no compensation for give products, brands and retailers a shout out. Where he and his firm do get compensation is from bring awesome retail solutions to you. Contact Chris today to discuss your needs – store interior, store within a store, pop up, displays, fixtures….he and his team can help your brand create delightfully awesome retail experiences. 330-858-8926 or chris@chrisweiganddesign.com

Organic Seed Display

This week I spied this wonderful organic seed display at Lowe’s, and wanted to share it with you.

The display is clean and simple, with a nice higher end feel for a temporary display. It looks well constructed. It even spins. I like the repetition of four panels to create the display, which keeps costs down. It was around six feet tall, and easy to shop.

The header graphics take up an appropriate amount of space, showcasing the brand, and “100% Organic” message.

The seed packets are well designed with a high-end glossy finish. Bright color graphics of plants and vegetables allow guests to quickly navigate the display visually. A great example of letting the packaging do its job instead of relying on fussy, and expensive supplementary wayfinding signage. The packaging also was unique for it’s “zip-loc” like closure. Sometimes you want to save seeds for future use. The closure is a brilliant addition to seed packets, which are usually paper and once they are open they’re exposed to the elements, or could get lost.

Note, in regards to organic seeds, it’s important that consumers purchase seeds that are free of neonicotinoids, a form of insecticides found in many commercially grown plants and seeds. The chemical is placed in the seeds and is subsequently in the plants that grow from the seeds. Neonicotinoids have been found to disrupt pollinators ability to navigate and ultimately survive. When buying seeds for your garden, we encourage you to purchase responsibly sourced seeds that are organic, free of harmful chemicals and are GMO free (i.e. non-genetically modified).

-Chris

Chris Weigand Design, LLC does not endorse Lowe’s or the makers of these organic seeds, or their display. But we do support any effort to create a healthy and sustainable environment for ourselves, our children and future generations.

Retail Resolutions for 2015

RF Image from Corbis © Jose Luis Pelaez Inc/Blend Images/Corbis

RF Image from Corbis © Jose Luis Pelaez Inc/Blend Images/Corbis

Ten Retail New Year’s Resolutions You Can Make in 2015

It’s that fun time of year when we enjoy making lists for the new year. All the stuff we’re going to do, not do, or do better now that we’ve got a clean slate. I’m not immune from list making, so I thought I’d share ten retail related things I think are worth doing in 2015, to help make your retail experience the best it can be. They may not be monumental, or even new, but they are worth considering in the new year (every year really).

1) Create A Website For Your Business

I don’t care if you’re a name brand, a local shop or a plumber: you need an online presence. There are plenty of DIY website providers that have simple to use templates. Often they can host your site, provide you with a domain name, and an email address. For less than a couple hundred dollars a year, everyone will be able to find you, learn about your business, and know how to get in contact with you. Get at least one page up on the internet with your information. It doesn’t have to be fancy or expensive. If you still don’t want to be bothered, sites like Facebook allow you to set up an online presence basically for free.

2) Start A Store 

Are you selling online? Take a stab with a physical retail space. Pop-up stores are becoming ubiquitous. These little temporary shops can be rented for short periods of time, sometimes for the day, and are usually found in high traffic areas that are favored by hip young shoppers. Often all you’ll need is your product, some in store marketing (i.e. signs) and your sales hat. Check out websites such as The Store Front to get started.

Do you have a physical store? Add a shop to your website, or get a free or  low-cost shop online on sites like Etsy (for art, antiques and crafts) where you can sell your goods.

3) Define Your Brand

Whether you’re new or you’ve been selling for a while now, try to take a look (or hire someone to take an unbiased look) at your business and your brand. Why do you exist? Answer that and then let that guide every decision you make about your retail business. And throw out anything that doesn’t add value to your answer; everything that does not contribute to your purpose. Understand your strengths compared to your competition and leverage those. Don’t be something you’re not. Customers want products from brands who have a clear vision of who they are. Insert obligatory Apple or Nike example here.

4) Omni-channel Sync

You’ve got a brand, your store and an online presence. That’s a good omni-channel retail experience. Now sync them all. Make sure your message is consistent, consistent, consistent…at every touch point consumers have with you. And constantly examine and rework any areas that are falling short. If you don’t have the time, then hire an expert in retail design, search engine optimization, graphic or web design to help you out. Subconsciously consumers can tell when you’re sending mixed signals, which can translate to lost sales.

5) Understand Your Customer

Consumers change whether you like it or not. Even if you have a highly specialized customer base that you think is impervious to the changing world, it is still important to make sure you understand their wants and needs. Advances in technology now allow customers to shop from any store in the world. Even die-hard loyal customers will peek around every once in a while just to make sure they’re getting what they want. Leave nothing to chance. Identify customer needs and provide top-notch customer service and goods. If you need help researching customers, market and trends, there are a plethora of professional resources out there that specialize in retail research. And don’t be afraid to go in a new direction if that is what your retail business demands.

6) De-clutter 

Yes, everyone loves the charm of hunting and pecking through an antique store. But unless you’re an antique store take a look at your retail environment and try to straighten things up a bit. Last year I was in a clothing shop and I could barely move between fixtures places a foot apart. It drove me crazy just being in the store. Yes some customers don’t mind, but then why even bother with all the fancy displays and fixtures; why not just put out cardboard boxes for them to rummage through? That would save you a lot of money.

Using your brand mission as a guide look at every element: fixtures, signage, props, product, way finding. Make sure everything speaks to your overarching message, but also make sure guests can navigate and shop in a clear, fun, rewarding manner. For example, if you’re stuck with an eclectic collection of metal fixtures, paint them all the same color to create some consistency. Create aisles that can be navigated at the very least. The retail experience is why you’re selling your items in a store instead of from a shoebox on the sidewalk. Good design, a good retail experience, does not cost any more than a dismal experience, and it will make you more money in the long run. Know when to bring in outside help if necessary. It’s not always a DIY type of project.

7) Get Flexible

You need tools that work for you in your retail space. While it’s fun to peruse catalogs, or buy props, simplify your display and fixture offering by utilizing flexible merchandising systems. Typically they share parts, are easy to tailor to your changing retail landscape (once you figure out how they go together) and they help give some consistency to your visual merchandising. Even if you’re using all found objects, use items that can be used in a variety of ways. A crate that can be a table, box or seat maybe. And if you can swing for new fixtures, make sure they all use the same accessories so you can mix up your merchandising as the year progresses. Modular display systems should be “updatable” as well, so as styles change you can switch wood tones, graphics or color accents.

8) Amp Up Visual Impact

Graphics (i.e. signage) is the cheapest, easiest and most effective way to amp up your retail experience. Large format graphics attract from far away. Good way finding helps guests find departments and products. A consistent signage package is an extension of your brand message. You can now direct print onto virtually any substrate including wood and glass. And printing has become very environmentally sustainable. As a subset of visual impact, if you don’t want a ton of signs in your store, utilize awesome store window displays, and props to get your message across. Lastly, let your product and it’s packaging sing. No need for the display to fight the product or retail experience.

9) Store Within A Store

Creating a boutique retail experience has always been a great way to generate interest and help guests navigate. A large percentages of our projects are these types of projects. Pick a brand in your store, such as a purse manufacturer if you’re running an apparel store, and allocate a specific area for that product. Amp it up with special displays, flooring, lighting, and signage. And feel free to change these areas out seasonally or tailer areas for different brands. Go to any big box or department store (such as JC Penny with their in house Sephora shop) and you’ll see what we’re talking about. Regardless of your store size, and even if you’re only on-line, you can set up an enriching store within a store experience.

10) Have Fun

Ultimately figure out why you’re in retail and pursue the things that make you and your customers happy. Try different things. Challenge conventional thinking. And have fun.

Chris Weigand is president of Chris Weigand Design, LLC, a full service retail design agency that specializes in designing interiors, displays, fixtures, packaging and graphics for retail stores. They also provide expert retail market research and environmental sustainability consultation services. Chris has designed retail solutions for retailers such as Walmart, Target, Lowe’s, and Home Depot, and product companies including American Greetings, Valspar, Step2, Flambeau Products, and Energizer.

No project is too large or small. We add value to your business through design expertise, and provided you with the expertise you need, allowing you to focus on your business. Contact us today at (330) 858-8926 or visit http://www.chrisweiganddesign.com for more information

We do not endorse any companies or products mentioned on our design blog. They are for reference purposes only. Utilized goods and services from these companies at your own risk. Happy new year.

Summer Fun – It’s About The Experience

After a long day of fun in the sun, visiting with family, we had the pleasure of stepping into a Tasty Time frozen yogurt shop in upstate New York last week.

The advent of “choose-your-own” frozen yogurt retailers is not lost on me. There was a time when after a hard week of work I’d take the team out for “fro-yo” to celebrate a job well done. In a corporate world beset with soul-crushing deadlines and cog-in-the-wheel tasks, the freedom of choosing one’s own flavors and toppings was liberating.  A Friday afternoon punctuation mark of limitless possibility was a treat indeed.

In case you don’t know how it works: you basically walk in, grab a cup, fill it with flavored frozen yogurt and dump a bunch of toppings on top. The store person weighs your culinary creation, you hand them money, you grab a spoon, you sit and realize why life is so awesome. The goal is to shoot for $5 (in the midwest at least). Spend any less and you really aren’t trying hard enough. Over, and you may have an indecision or self-control problem on your hands.

Oh well, problems can wait when you’re enjoying fro-yo.

Which brings us back to our trip to Tasty Time. As we sat there eating our yogurt, the Summer sun receding behind the mountains, the experience was very pleasant. It was more than getting “ice cream” with the family. The interior of the store was bright, colorful and inviting. Customers filtered in, went through the experience and sat enjoying their dessert. The owner came out to say “hello” and thank us for visiting. Our kids enjoyed counting alternating orange and white upholstered cube seats. There were cool looking lights and signs promoting various other delights beyond just frozen yogurt.

As we finished up the kids filled out neon colored index cards of thanks and pinned them up on a corner bulletin board. There was a sense of community.

It was all about the experience. The attention to detail was present throughout the store, from entry to exit, from beginning to end. Colors, textures, details all worked harmoniously. Even the bathroom was modern, clean and delightful.

The point is, if you have a store then please create an experience. Be mindful of your brand, create a brand message and make sure that message is communicated in EVERYTHING you do. Think not only about the physical space but the processes customers will experience when they visit. Our trip to Tasty Time wasn’t over the top, the experience was subtle, but it was effective.

It is about more than just selling a frozen treat. We left that night with a vacation memory that hopefully the kids will remember for a long time. I know I’ll treasure the experience. Not bad for five bucks.

 

-Chris Weigand

Chris is president of Chris Weigand Design, LLC, a full service retail design consultancy focused on helping retailers and product companies provide customers with an experience when they venture out to spend their hard earned cash. When he’s not designing or writing, Chris enjoys spending time with his family, eating frozen yogurt and exploring stores. Visit http://www.chrisweiganddesign.com to find out how they can help with your next project.

We Love The Glove Signs At Lowe’s

It’s Spring, so that means nearly non-stop trips to Lowe’s for various and assorted supplies to complete all the projects we have back at the ranch. While there I came across this wonderful glove display near the bird food and doors leading outdoors. I just had to share it with you.

glove-sign-at-lowes

glove-display-detail-lowesThe look is super simple but highly effective. Sign panels organize the glove shopping experience by type or durability of product. It’s easy to shop because of the awesome iconography, color and plenty of visual negative space. Looking closely you notice the icons are die cut from 1/4′ board – presumably Sintra PVC. In this case it’s a good use of materials, assuming the display stays up year round and doesn’t wind up in a landfill. The natural shadowing and stand-off icons liven up the display. It looks upscale yet right on brand. Were Lowe’s to follow this visual brand language throughout the store they would definitely elevate their retail experience and separate themselves from the competition.

I also love the large format header with the bird house icons above.

Overall the display had be running over to it, and is easily seen from thirty or more feet away.

Well done.