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

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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.

Design For Independent Retailers

photo via Corbisimages.com

photo via Corbisimages.com

In honor of Global Shop next week we thought we’d would share with you our thoughts on how independent retailers can benefit from engaging the services of a retail design consultancy. Regardless of whether run a “pop-up”, one store or a dozen stores it’s worth considering enlisting some outside help if you want and need it to give your retail experience a shot in the arm.

A Design Team Works Within Your Budget

You are the expert when it comes to your business. We’ll say that time and time again. You built it from the ground up. There’s no denying your knowledge and dedication. Why would you need or want a design consultant?

Well, sometimes it’s good to get a fresh set of eyes looking at something. They can provide experienced and professional insight. And it may be worth getting some help so you can step back to concentrate on other aspects of the business that need your attention more. A consultant costs as much, or as little as you have budgeted for your project. And they can help immensely.

As a retail design consultancy we start by meeting with you to review your business; learn from you the opportunities you face and assess areas where we can add value. A retail design services can run from a few hundred dollars to tens of thousands of dollars depending on the scope and complexity of the project. The services you’ll receive are outlined in a proposal ahead of time, and each phase can be agreed upon to suit your time and budgetary needs. Truly, no project is too big or small.

Retail Designers Offer A Variety Of Services

Whether you are just starting out or you’ve been in the business for ages, it is critical that you connect to customers and your brand speaks with one voice. There are a variety of ways a design team can help. Here are some examples that would be of benefit to independent retailers:

Graphic Design – this includes branding, such as creating a logo or style guide for your store. Also graphic design covers in store signage and way-finding. The designers can use art, illustration, typography and photography to create inspiring graphics that hit your guests sense of style and emotion, putting them in the frame of mind to fall in love with your brand. Related to graphics is packaging design – so if you have a need to actually brand product, say juice bottles, soap or salon products – the design team can design those solutions as well to give a cohesive brand message to guests.

Interior Design – this is retail experience on a macro level. Everything on the inside of your store, from flooring to walls to lighting and ceiling influences how guests feel while they are shopping. Also space planning which is important, so that your store has good traffic flow. It can be as simple as rearranging and curating what you already have, to a complete extreme store makeover.

Visual Merchandising & Display Design – in concert with graphics, the design of the displays and fixtures that your products go on can make a impact on the experience. Your designer can select stock displays or design custom ones that can be made within your budget. Displays make sure your product is the star and is delightful to shop. Visual Merchandising attracts and helps tell your story.

Project Management & Sourcing – the design team can manage the project from kickoff, to design brief, through design and specification, ultimately to retail implementation. Designers are experts at managing multiple programs and assuring they are completed to specification, on time and on budget. Especially if you are trying something out for the first time, having sourcing help can come in handy.

Research, Trends, and Sustainability Consulting – design firms are a great resource for the latest trends, or areas where you may not be as knowledgable such as environmental sustainability. Plus if you need someone to research the market, your competition or your customers, a consultancy can provide those services. This can help your business beyond just how your store looks and functions.

A Retail Design Team Works With You

As I said, you’re the expert when it comes to your brand. Meet with your designers and assess your unique business and brand situation. Then the design team will make recommendations and provide design solutions as necessary. Equally important they’ll tell you what you don’t need. It certainly is not a one person dance; the design team you’ve hired is your partner. They’ll bring fresh perspective and interesting ideas, and be able to work seamlessly with your in-house resources. In the end your brand story will attract and connect with guests at every touch point. And you will save yourself from the frustration, not to mention time and money, of trying to do everything yourself.

You may not need an outside design firm to help you out. I’ve been in plenty of independent retailers that are doing an awesome job all by themselves. But at least be aware that these services are out there. They add value to the most critical part of your business: telling your brand story to guests. Take advantage of the professional perspective, creativity and talent that a retail design team can bring to your store.

The brand you built deserves it.

In what ways do you think you could benefit from engaging a retail designer?

If you don’t use a designer, why not?

Share your thoughts in the comments below. Happy retailing merchant peeps!

Chris Weigand has been designing innovative retail solutions for over 15 years. The results of his work can be found in over 30,000 retail doors, enhancing the shopper experience and improving sales. If you are an independent retailer who would like to find out how Chris Weigand Design can help your brand connect with guests, visit our website at www.chrisweiganddesign.com We are actively looking for great new clients to partner with, creating awesome retail experiences.

Brand Meaning Is Evolving

Find your brand niche in the business ecosystem. RF photo via Corbis.com

Find your brand niche in the business ecosystem.
RF photo via Corbis.com

“Brand” must have more meaning now more than ever.

The word “brand” is ubiquitous these days. There are probably more articles on the topic on any given day than there are actual brands. Our consultancy throws the word around quite a bit too. I never did a count on our website or other media outlets but I’m sure the word is there dozens if not a hundred times. But what does it really mean?

While reading Nicolas Bordas’s insightful article I started thinking. What does it mean to have a brand in this day and age? To be a brand? In the “old-days” a brand was a cool logo, some advertising, and maybe a tag line that was subject to change. The branding work was handled by guys with fancy suits over martini lunches. It was likely the realm of larger companies; you didn’t worry about branding until you needed to worry about branding so to speak.

The reality was smaller companies, such as independent retailers and widget makers, were working on branding all along, but probably not consciously. It was just how they did business. What big-business spent big bucks on, came naturally for the mom-and-pop operations. Ironically while the larger companies paid to craft perceived authenticity, the little guys often oozed authenticity. If you wanted to know what a big brand stood for, you ate whatever their marketing team fed you. As for the small guy you went up and talked to them; saw first hand what they stood for. Although they probably couldn’t tell you what their “brand” was if you paid them. Sort of an ironic “authenticity gap” between perception and reality. I’m not sure how else to describe it. Also I’m sure somewhere in the middle there were brands that were probably best described as having “made-up” authenticity – woodsy sounding product companies located in someone warehouse downtown for example.

The point is over the course of the last few decades, with the advent of mass communication, peer review and access to information, the meaning of brand has evolved incredibly. The playing field is being leveled in many regards. You simply need a brand now more than ever.

And the meaning of your brand can’t be left to chance, or hidden behind smoke and mirrors.

Branding is no longer the luxury of large companies or the boutique cuteness of little ones. Everyone, big and small, is (or should be) scrambling to craft a brand message and communicate it to the world, or at least the audience that might buy what you’re selling. Your brand needs to be more than just a clever logo and flashy product design. Even Apple will tell you that.  It needs to be purposeful and comprehensive; permeating  throughout your organization in a real, tangible, meaningful manner. In fact the authenticity gap that was easily covered up in the “old days” is suddenly front and center. Every organization had better wrap its head around what their brand is and be able to communicate to customers why that brand exists, quickly and simply.

To do that successfully, the meaning of “brand” to your organization has to evolve. Figure out what your niche is; where you fit into the business ecosystem. Why do you exist? Delve into what your brand stands for socially, environmentally and from a business perspective.

And don’t try to fake any part of that message. Consumers are savvy, they’ll know if you’re trying to fool them. They’ll shut you down quicker than you can say “fourth quarter earnings”. Every organization has to be authentic to succeed. This is the new brand meaning.

When you come to a fork in the road, your well established brand philosophy is your roadmap.

Ingrain that authentic message into everything you do, internally and externally; every touch point. Build your business around that. Communicate with one voice. Nurture your brand and your customers. Establish feedback loops and evolve as necessary. If you do that then business life becomes simpler. You’re no longer solely focused on competition, you’re now focused on customers and your brand. The idea isn’t to take over the world. Concentrate on who you are and the rest will take care of itself. When you come to a fork in the road, your well established brand philosophy is your roadmap. It will answer every business question you have from what kind of soap is in the bathroom to how you’re going to rollout your next product successfully. Brand self-awareness trumps the latest business thinking du jour every day of the week and twice on Sunday.

You can argue that I over simplify things, but on the other hand maybe we spend too much time (and countless dollars) making things overly complicated. Evolving what brand means to your organization could be the secret to your success in this day and age.

What does “brand” mean to your organization? Share in the comments below.

Chris Weigand

President – Chris Weigand Design, LLC

Chris Weigand Design is a retail design consultancy that can help your brand message resonate with consumers in the physical retail space. From graphics, to displays to holistic interior designs, we create experiences for your guests that delight them and have them telling their friends how awesome you are. Contact us today so we can start working with you.