Blog: Ron Bowers 

Ron Bowers (bio)
SVP, Business Development
Frank Mayer & Associates

Tuesday, 19 November 2013

Nikki Baird recently wrote an article for RSR talking about brands as storytellers and the importance of setting in conveying a sense of what a brand stands for. Sometimes this task can seem pretty straightforward. The example she used was Tommy Bahama with stores and restaurants that convey a relaxed, casual, beach lifestyle. Communicating that kind of brand story dictates some obvious natural-looking choices of design and materials in creating the environment.

Given what we do here at Frank Mayer and Associates, Inc., the RSR thought piece got us reflecting on the importance of delivering on the brand’s promise when designing merchandising.  Of course, we always work with brand, environment and user in mind. Different projects can offer vastly different paths to completion.

Sometimes in-store merchandising is called upon to fit into a clearly defined environment. The Tommy Bahama example above or a Nike flagship store might come to mind. The brand story is already clearly conveyed and an in-store merchandising piece fits into an easy groove.

There are other times when the brand is clearly defined, but the setting the in-store merchandiser or interactive piece goes into may vary. There is a real opportunity through the choices of design and materials to grab onto a brand story and convey it through merchandising that will stand out within its environment. If you think that sounds like a tall order, here are two very different examples that illustrate.

The Nintendo Wii U gaming system is an entertainment product that conveys the motion and light and high definition graphics of next generation technology. The award-winning Nintendo Wii U retail display simulates the immersive experience of gaming with a three-sided back-lit enclosure. The materials and lighting reinforce the high tech product story.

The user is surrounded on three sides with a branded Wii U blue enclosure that screens out the distractions of the retail environment and provides the perfect setting in which to view the 3-D monitor. The game console is displayed in a clear, jewel-like, injection molded case.  Everything about the display connotes that the user is about to have a cutting edge experience. It is an exciting space within a space that makes the user a part of the Wii U story.

Designed for a totally different kind of atmosphere than the Wii U retail display, the goCharge mobile charging stations for sports and entertainment venues convey warmth and a casual feel although they are intended to support high tech products. The brand in this case is not a product but a team or venue.

The first noticeable design element is that they are circular. The shape helps to promote the sense of camaraderie and social interaction that is a hallmark of sports and entertainment experiences.  With a table top and a foot rest, they’re designed for people to “belly up” to. While individual logos employed on each mobile charging station can brand them for specific venues, these pieces universally convey the communal experience of being a fan.

Good retail merchandising helps amplify the message of the brand. The story you want to tell and the main character in the story, the user, should clearly inform the look. When all the pieces fall into place the result can enhance the environment and can even be a real standout!
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