Updated: Mar 23
The other day, a colleague of mine, Matthew Remphrey (who owns a creative agency out in Australia, that specializes in branding & design for fine-wine) made a very acute observation when he came across our studio website for Rayvn.
He said: “not many branding firms do interior architecture. Most architects are not interested to make sure that brand is embedded in their work - rather they are more interested in enhancing their personal vision and design aesthetic that will win them industry awards. You guys on the other hand, understand that the customer experience should be consistent across all touchpoints - from logo, website, social media content to built form.”
Like Matt, I too advocate that a business’s branding does not end when the logo design is complete, or the business cards are printed, or the website has gone live. During every step of the branding process, you should ask yourself, “What do I want my customers to feel?” Your brand provides a distinct experience and evokes emotion from your customers. This is why it’s important for your businesses to care about branding all the way through to your interior design space. How are you making your customer feel the moment they step through your doors?
I want to use Starbucks as an example throughout this article to show you how a brand executes interior design. Whatever your feelings are on Starbucks, there is no denying that the brand is undeniably a design powerhouse. They believe a coffeehouse should be more than a place that just serves coffee. It should be a welcoming, inviting and a familiar place for people to connect. Starbucks designs their interiors to reflect the unique characteristics of the town/city and neighborhoods they serve.
Observe the following locations of Starbucks across the world – each one very different, and unique to the town and neighbor they serve, but still undeniably Starbucks.
Starbucks in Las Vegas
Starbucks in Chicago
Starbucks in Starbucks in Long Beach, California
Starbucks in London
Starbucks in Amsterdam
Starbucks in China
The mission of Starbucks is to create a spectacular customer experience that is in line with the local culture and designed to reflect the unique characteristics of each neighborhood in conjunction with their brand.
Why is it that anyone who has seen the Starbucks brand would be able to realize they are in a Starbucks store? Because Starbucks understands that their interior design is an extension of their customer experience service, experience, and brand identity. The strategy behind their interior design is simple. They localize store elements to reflect the neighborhood they are placed in, but they continue to stay true to the Starbucks experience. You can still feel that it’s a Starbucks, but it also has a sense of place and belonging. It isn’t just a coffee story; it is also a local cultural story. They want to resonate with the locals as well as tourists.
Starbucks is all about the coffee experience
One thing that all these Starbucks locations have in common, is the rich aroma of coffee once you step into these store. In order to enhance the coffee atmosphere, Starbucks employees are requested to avoid wearing strong perfumes that might interfere with the coffee aroma, and nearly all Starbucks around the world are non-smoking indoors. The preservation of the coffee-centric atmosphere was the reason that Starbucks abandoned its short-lived foray into serving breakfast sandwiches. According to some sources, the smell of the breakfast sandwiches overpowered the coffee aroma, making the coffee cafes smell like diners - an image that the company does not want to present.
HOW TO BRIDGE YOUR BRAND & INTERIOR DESIGN GAP
1. COLLABORATE & SCHEDULE
Collaborate as early on as possible with all parties involved: architects, interior designers, brand agencies, etc. Keeping all parties included on decision making leads to better ideas and creates stronger project overall.
Clearly define what you need to complete your project and what you want. The costs of interior design can vary depending on the scope of the project, so make sure you know where you can give and take within your budget. Be honest with yourself on what you want and what you need for your space. Staying within budget sometimes means compromising on certain things so you know your boundaries.
3. BRAND PILLARS
Brand pillars are the deep-seeded truths that your brand embraces every single day; culturally, physically and emotionally. These brand pillars not only describe your culture, but they can also help steer the art direction of your mood boards (which is up next!). The entire brand foundation relies on these pillars to be steadfast through the lifetime of the brand. For example, is your business clean, minimal and modern or is it fun, colorful and energetic? You can already see these adjectives immediately brought about two completely different pictures in your mind.
4. INTERIOR MOOD-BOARD
A mood board is a collection of images, words, fonts, and colors that, as a collection, are meant to evoke a feeling about your brand. Creating an interior space mood board will help better understand, gain cohesion and communicate your brand. You can then use this board to help you decide furniture choices, an accent wall, and lighting fixtures that are in line with your brand when you start exploring design options.
Here are 3 different mood-boards we did for a client of ours, to refresh their existing store design:
Mood-board 1: Clean, Warm, Uncomplicated
Mood-board 2: Polished, Rustic / Organic, Thoughtful
Mood-board 3: Bold, Passionate, True
Search for furniture pieces locally or online that align with your interior mood board and have fun! Don’t forget about your budget and your floor plan. First, buy your staple pieces: paint, chairs, a couch, an office table, etc. What pieces do you need to buy in order for your interior space to convey the brand successfully? Be cautious to not get sucked into buying things you want, but focus first on the items you need.
7. EXECUTE & REFINE
Once all of your “need” interior pieces have arrived start arranging them in your space according to your floor plan. Test everything out and check back with your interior mood board. Does it go together? Do you use the same descriptive words (your brand pillars) to describe your space as you do your brand, product or service? Is your space continuing to tell the story of your brand? If the answer is “YES!” and if there is room in your budget still, start adding some additional “want” accents that continue the brand story, such as décor, light fixtures, choice of pillows, an accent rug, etc.
At Rayvn, we use 3D Architectural renderings to show you what your current space looks like, and what it can look like after the new design proposal is implemented:
After new design is implemented:
WHY DOES THIS MATTER?
Branding is a pivotal element of your business. Branded interior design is a critical tool to enforce and strengthen your business, re-enforcing your customer bond, and improve the overall experience. A company’s brand communicates what makes them unique and helps them stand out against competition. Circling back to Starbucks, there are many companies who also sell coffee – yet none can compare to Starbucks. Since its founding days, in the early 1990’s Starbucks has strived to build its brand identity by offering customers a relaxing and enjoyable experience. From the beginning, the experiential aspect of the brand has been consistently and effectively implemented in all Starbucks stores across the globe.
The Starbucks mission statement is “To inspire, and nurture the human spirit – one person, one cup, and one neighborhood at a time.” The only number that matters to Starbucks is “one.” One cup. One customer. One partner. One experience at a time.
The company’s brand strategy has kept pace with time and has evolved to take advantage of new and emerging trends while still staying true to its mission statement. For example, their new design strategy is: Act Local. What you don’t want is a customer walking into a store in downtown Toronto, then walking into a store in downtown Montreal and having it be the same layout, same store, same everything. To design local, you have to be a local. You can’t design a locally relevant store without being a local. Starbucks has just recently started relocating their interior design team from headquarters into the actual communities where they would be designing stores.
Starbucks has over 500 designers that are working out of 18 different design studios around the globe. With more people spread out, they began noticing that the original foundation of being “Your neighborhood coffee shop” started to gain its authentic roots back. Notice, the only thing that was being changed here – was the interior design. The mission, the experience and the coffee are still all the same – this is how impactful interior design can be on a business.
The environmental design space is a crucial element of the brand experience. Interior execution should embody the values and vibe of your company in the same way a logo, website, or your curated Instagram posts would like for your business. Interested to see how we could pair your brand identity with interior design? Let's chat.
Branding & Design Consultant for Small Businesses.
Creative Director & Co-Founder of Rayvn
(Disclaimer: The contents of this article do not necessarily represent the views or policies of Rayvn. The views expressed are my own :)
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