Your space is your voice.

This guest post comes from frequent contributor, Tess Wickstead, Strategy Director of the international design agency Pearlfisher.

As a retailer it is important that you make your retail space speak on your behalf. You have control over the environment and retail space that your products exist in and the development of this space is crucial to distinguishing your brand.

If you visit a store that does this well – think Apple or Victoria’s Secret – the store’s identity is clear even if you were to remove all merchandise. These brands are taking ownership of their spaces and creating a holistic brand identity that transcends the product. The retail space is one of the most effective environments to showcase your brand world. By approaching brand space in the right way you can overshadow your competitors and reinforce your ownership of the aisles.

For many private label retailers the use of retail space is an untapped resource. A brand needs to be looked at in totality and remain true to its values through the entire brand environment. Design can be used to create a seamless experience, where everything from the biggest ideas to the finest details feel cohesive and build upon the larger brand ideals. So what does a brand need to consider when contemplating retail space and brand experience?

See your retail space as an opportunity to build a new dimension into your brands world as well as an opportunity to reinforce your brand’s messaging. To create a complete brand experience within your retail environment it is useful to focus on the following essential principles: cohesion, clarity, connection, empathy, seduction and authenticity. Cohesion is key for creating an overall sense of unity. Clarity helps to create a compelling offer that is easy to understand and simple to navigate. Empathy allows you to create a world with your audience in mind. Connection is key to engaging this audience, creating a lasting emotional bond. Seduction draws people into your experience, making it irresistible. And lastly, authenticity makes the experience special and unique to you.

Publix is an example of a company that is aware of space and utilizes many of the above principles. The store’s motto, Where shopping is a pleasure, reassures us that they are conscious of not only their products, but the store environment itself. Their private label packaging is consistent across product lines but is also pleasing and fun, contributing to their goal of making shopping enjoyable. In a similar way, Wegmans use signage and POS to help reinforce their brand identity with familial and accessible typography and a store environment that keeps the value of exciting food at its core. That said, both stores could work to further align the aesthetics of their private label with the store itself, and vice versa. A more complete integration of private label and retail space would further shoppers’ experiences as well as enhance brand values.

Kate Spade is a great example of a store that remains conscious of brand values at all times and designs their physical and virtual spaces with strict attention to value cues and brand identity. The storefronts of Kate Spade exude a playful nature using bright colors, strong seasonal themes, and a vibrant aesthetic. Inside, this strong identity is continued in the ‘statement piece’ Kate Spade merchandise and brand expression is reflected through in-store furnishings that echo the vibrant quirkiness of the window displays. By doing this, Kate Spade ensures that the spirit that draws the consumer into the store itself also draws the consumer to a point of sale. This consistent and holistic brand experience drives sales and encourages brand loyalty.

Your retail space is your brands’ home. Consider where your brand lives and how all the elements work within it. From the retail concept, to segmentation, packaging design, messaging and POS, take ownership of your space and reclaim your aisles!

Tess Wicksteed, Strategy Director, Pearlfisher
Tess’s great talent is the instant ability to see the wood for the trees. As the creative force behind Pearlfisher’s strategic offer, she trades in originality, clarity and logic, getting to the point fast and delivering strategy that’s both creative and cohesive. A longstanding Pearlfisher person, Tess was Strategy Director in London for ten years before relocating with her family for a brand new challenge in New York.

As a literature student at York, Sussex and Cambridge Universities, Tess was keen to become first a clown, then a teacher. However, it was her belief that good culture matters that finally led to a career in design and an ongoing commitment to creating powerful brands that contribute positively to the world. Short and sharp in all things, Tess balances refreshing bluntness with disarming humanity. Her presence on a project promises fireworks – and guarantees results.



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Christopher Durham
Christopher Durham is the president of My Private Brand and the co-founder of The Vertex Awards. He is a strategist, author, consultant and retailer who built brands at Delhaize-owned Food Lion, and lead strategy and brand development for Lowe’s Home Improvement. He has consulted with retailers around the world on their private brand portfolios including: Family Dollar, Petco, Staples, Office Depot, Best Buy, Metro (Canada), TLW (Taiwan) and Hola (Taiwan). Durham has published five definitive books on private brands, including his first book, Fifty2: The My Private Brand Project. In 2017, he will debut his newest book, Vanguard: Vintage Originals, a visual tour of innovation and disruption in private brand going back to the mid-1800’s. Dynamic in his presentation while down to earth and frank in his opinions, he has presented at numerous conferences, including FUSE, The Dieline Conference, Packaging that Sells, Omnishopper and PLMA’a annual trade show in Chicago. Durham lives in Charlotte, NC with his wife, Laraine, and two daughters, Olivia and Sarah.