Unbranding the Brand II

Unbranding, it appears from my research, is a term used to describe a fix, meaning one or more of the following:

The brand has been somehow damaged. The Value Jet plain crash is an example of this. Photo used under Fair Use
The market is saturated and cannot support the same shop over and over again. Starbuck’s has been opening new locations named after the street address in an effort to capture fresh markets. Photo used under Creative Commons
The decision makers in the organization decide that the brand is in need of revision or update. Photo used under Pulic Domain

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My idea of unbranding, in the context of this discussion, goes more to the question raised by John Freeman in the previous post when he said that he “hated brands.” The comment was made in the context of a discussion about storefront design. My interpretation of this is that he hated the uniformity, the lack of surprise, even the visual dominance of the well known brands. This describes a store design problem that is related too, but not the same as “unbranding” as a fix.

As an additional note I should say that bigger business brains than mine are describing this “unbranding” trend that I have seen coming for a while.  This article  in Harvard Business Review is important enough to retailers for me to reference it here.  Continued in Part III.)

Known Brand
Known Brand
Known Brand
Known Brand
Known Brand
Known Brand

 

 

 

 

Bridget Gaddis, is a Licensed Architect and LEED-accredited Professional practicing nationally, and locally in the Washington DC area. She holds professional degrees in both Architecture and Interior Design, and with a comprehensive background in commercial retail design, planning and construction has completed projects for such for such well known brands as Chloe, Zegna, and Bvlgari. Her career began in tenant coordination and site planning for two well-known Cleveland developers, followed by six years in store planning for a national retailer. After a move to New York City in 1997, she spent the next years working for architecture firms specializing in retail projects. In 2011 she started her own practice in Alexandria, VA. Ms. Gaddis is the author of two blogs dealing with architectural subjects.

Unbranding the Brand, Part I

Night View Down Bathesda Avenue, by G. Edward Johnson, 7/30/2008, Author: EnLorax, from Wikimedia, Creative Commons

At the AIA convention this past summer I attended an event entitled: Bathesda Row a Retrospective Look at a Retail Icon. For anyone not familiar with it, Bethesda Row it is a highly successful mixed use development project that took place over 17 or so years. It is a model of successful “main street” retail. The developer, John Freeman, made a side comment that may have been the most telling point in the event. He said, “I hate brands,” thereby moving an idea from a thought to a thing. He followed with a discussion of the tenant mix housed in the retail parts of the development, saying that 35% of the tenants were independent “mom and pop” retailers that were critical to the success of the project. I have thought for a while now that the newest trend in the built retail environment might well be “unbranding” the brand. If so, the implications for store design and planning are considerable.

It is probably important to say that the term “unbranding” as used here is inclusive, meaning: replacing an existing brand to escape bad press, re-branding in order to alter and existing identity, or putting forward an entirely new brand. However it is implemented, “unbranding” is expensive, and a great deal of marketing (as per this article  which may be more than you ever wanted to know, but nevertheless worth a read) has certainly gone into any such program long before it reaches the point of actual store planning.

That said, it might be a good idea for a retailer to take a look at it’s real main street competition on a location by location basis before designing the new store. (Continued in Part II)

Bridget Gaddis, is a Licensed Architect and LEED-accredited Professional practicing nationally, and locally in the Washington DC area. She holds professional degrees in both Architecture and Interior Design, and with a comprehensive background in commercial retail design, planning and construction has completed projects for such for such well known brands as Chloe, Zegna, and Bvlgari. Her career began in tenant coordination and site planning for two well-known Cleveland developers, followed by six years in store planning for a national retailer. After a move to New York City in 1997, she spent the next years working for architecture firms specializing in retail projects. In 2011 she started her own practice in Alexandria, VA. Ms. Gaddis is the author of two blogs dealing with architectural subjects.

Can More Money Be Charged for the Merchandise Because the Ceiling Looks Expensive? Maybe!

Elevation/Section Through a Curved Ceiling

If you have the budget a curved ceiling can add sophistication, and polish to a rectangular retail department or room. When used in a small space, perhaps 1000 square feet, the ceiling can be held back from the wall allowing for a cove and creating all manner of design possibilities. The cove frames the room and adds focus to the walls, and the curve, if the ceiling is white or reflective, offers a more subtle option by placing indirect light on merchandise displayed in the center of the room.

Detail of Lighting Hidden in Cove

I worked on the boutique in the drawings above. Capturing the light while hiding the fixtures was a big priority. Not only is the cove perfect for this, but it also has a directional quality which points to the merchandise along the adjacent walls.

The Coolest T-Shirt Shop I Have Ever Seen .... Pefkos, Rhodes
The best way to know that this tea shirt shop got it right is to imagine what it would look like without the curved ceiling. One quickly realizes that by softening the environment with warm indirect light reflected off of the colored ceiling, the design is performing as noted above and more. Hard to believe the place is selling tea shirts. They can probably charge more just because the ceiling looks expensive.   Photo used with permission from Gareth Scanlon, photographer.

Bridget Gaddis, is a Licensed Architect and LEED-accredited Professional practicing nationally, and locally in the Washington DC area. She holds professional degrees in both Architecture andInterior Design, and with a comprehensive background in commercial retail design, planning and construction has completed projects for such for such well known brands as Chloe, Zegna, and Bvlgari. Her career began in tenant coordination and site planning for two well-known Cleveland developers, followed by six years in store planning for a national retailer. After a move to New York City in 1997, she spent the next years working for architecture firms specializing in retail projects. In 2011 she started her own practice in Alexandria, VA. Ms. Gaddis is the author of two blogs dealing with architectural subjects.