Martin M Pegler
As you show –so shall you sell! It is as simple as that and yet, surprisingly, so many retailers just don’t get it. It is not enough to carry fine merchandise and well advertised brand names; how you present your merchandise sets you apart from the retail
Just as manufacturers spend millions creating easily recognized and long remembered logos and brand insignia so must today’s retailer create his own brand identity which should become even more important to the consumer than the manufacturer’s brands which are contained within the store. Since I write books on retail, restaurant and specialty food store design I am always looking for and finding new designs and architects and store planners who create them. These stores, shops and cafes are now considered “retail brand images” - they are the “visual cues” to the shopper and by the choice of building and finishing materials, the color palette, the theme, the graphics and the visual merchandising and display a distinct “signature image” is created. It tells the shopper who and what the retailer is and something about the caliber of the merchandise.
So many retailers who have grown and prospered over the years are today commissioning designers to create new retail brand images for them because the world now relies on imagery and image recognition. People don’t seem to want to take the time to discover on their own; they want a sure thing— something already proven. Thus, the power of branding. Also retailers are looking to expand their customer base and reach out to new shoppers without losing their traditional and loyal customers. That means tying in some of the familiar visual cues with the new ones. Maybe it is maintaining a signature color in the logo, or some unique architectural or decorative element from the old store in the new design like a chandelier or a classic old display table. The resulting design combines old with new, traditional with the future and still serves to identify the retailer as an entity to be reckoned with.
The presentation of the merchandise and the displays that bring the shoppers into the store are very important in creating the retail brand image. If one uses mannequins—are they distinctive? Do they represent, truly, the retailer’s customer base? Do they do justice to the merchandise? Are they as smart, sophisticated and stylish as the garments or as amusing, young and trendy as the retailer would like his wares to appear? They are the store’s “silent salespeople” and they “speak” volumes about the merchandise! If the retailer uses forms, drapers or costumers— how are they different from those used by his neighbor? How do they make the garments look unique and distinctive? If the retailer doesn’t have a big sign with the store name on it will people still recognize the store by its window presentations? They are the image makers—out on the street and in the aisles of the mall. They dare the shopper as they entice them and lure them in with a sense of newness and excitement.
What does the display of stock on the wall and floor fixtures or fittings –on the display tables and racks—say about the retailer? How does the shopper quickly and conveniently find the merchandise or the particular designer or brand name she seeks inside the store? That is where the retailer’s distinctive visual merchandising not only becomes part of the retail image but adds greatly to what shoppers—the world over—look for in a shopping experience. They look for and want selection, quality, comfort and ease of shopping. So, as I said at the very start—this is the moment of truth. This is where the shopper meets the merchandise and where the decisions are made. This is where how you show affects how you sell.
Many retailers, hoping to expand into multistore chains know the importance of that recognizable Retail Brand Image and how it plays in the marketplace. The “look” means continuity; it means good will and the store’s reputation is represented by the colors, materials and the visual cues inherent in the design. The better the retailer looks—the more will he be able to attract the top name brands looking for outlets. We are a brand conscious society so make sure that you create your own personal “brand image” to succeed in business
Martin M. Pegler