Innovation in Branded Spaces
The essence of brand-building
Brand building is a complex, multi-faceted aspect of the marketing mix that many organizations are grappling with today. Whereas brands previously relied on differentiation through unique physical experiences like trade shows, interior design, architecture, or ads, today the physical realm can be blended seamlessly with the digital to create fresh new branded experiences that surprise and delight consumers. Global brands like Camper, Nike, Nokia, Audi and Aesop have all come up with concepts and strategies that communicate brand identity in novel ways, thus showcasing their knack for innovation, industry leadership, sense of design, and digital superiority. Over time, they condition their target audiences to expect more from the brands. In the process, they often manage to outperform consumers’ wildest expectations, while creating intriguing and colorful branded experiences.
Brands as spaces
How can brands transform their essence into digitized physical spaces and why do they need to engage in such behavior at all? More than just physical places or venues, brand spaces are futuristic concepts, which organizations have decided to interpret for their audiences with specific goals in mind. They are not necessarily about where a brand currently is – more so about where it wants to go. The perfect testing grounds, brand spaces can foreshadow or gauge a new vision that the brand wants to adopt and manifest to the public. This vision is typically based on a carefully crafted growth strategy that is largely pre-determined by changing consumer tastes and preferences.
What are some of the actual spaces or vehicles that a brand can use to signal a shift in strategy? We review some of the most prominent ones below.
Pop-up stores are one example of branded retail that have proven popular with consumers. Outside of the limitations of traditional retail, brands can design concepts that offer something new to would-be consumers more freely. The goal of pop-up stores is not as much to sell merchandise or services – rather, it’s to establish the innovative superiority or cutting-edge design concepts brewing within the brands’ boudoirs.
Today, retail spaces can integrate sophisticated technology that aims to facilitate purchases but also establishes the brand as a digital leader. Ad tech, digital screen projections, electronic shelf labels, product comparison shelves, digital shopping touchpoints, digital lockers, beacons, and AI shopping assistants are among some of the digital innovations based on IoT and connected devices that leading retailers are implementing in their bids to differentiate themselves from the competition and to boost the dropping rates of offline commerce.
The use of office space, colors, textures and interior design say as much about a brand as its logo. Is the interior of your organization’s headquarters aligned with what your brand stands for and aims to communicate to the outside world? For a company in the health sector it would be paramount to ensure it lives and breathes its mission, which could be improving the daily lives of its constituents. True commitment to these values would be reflected in the smallest details: from the soft drink options at the company cafeteria to the availability of ergonomic desks, on-site gym, or yoga classes.
Beyond simply offering team members branded swag or apparel, making sure the people working for your organization share the same values, ethics and goals is of utmost importance in a world where a strong and consistent brand image is made up of many smaller components. Thanks to social media, the opinions and actions of employees, partners and suppliers at all levels are highly visible and easily monitored with the help of social listening and brand tracking software. While in previous decades the public image of corporate C-level officers was the only one that truly mattered, today, an organization’s employees are all de facto PR officers who can help boost brand equity or single-handedly destroy it.