Should brand stores be visually consistent?

By 27th April 2020 May 4th, 2020 Uncategorised

As a business, you are always encouraged to be consistent – especially when it comes to promoting your products/services online. Yet do these same rules apply to your store? For instance, should your stores be visually consistent in design, layout and branding, or are there other strategies you can employ?

In this article, we shall explore the pros and cons of being consistent, and when inconsistency may be the better option.

Consistency

Pros

Research and consumer feedback all suggest that customers crave familiarity and ease of use. They like knowing what to expect and being able to find what they want straight away because your brand keeps to the same layout and design.

And there is logic to this thinking, as by ensuring that customers enjoy the same shopping experience – no matter the location of your store – you can help them to feel more comfortable, satisfied and trusting of your brand.

This can range from making sure that your products are well presented, sized and maintained, to creating a standard for how products are presented/shelved, to ensuring that signage/graphics is properly coordinated; in all cases, by implementing the right visual merchandising strategy, you can build up brand loyalty.

Take for example Apple. All of their stores are renowned for having the same minimalistic look and feel (which they have incorporated into their product design). Yet this consistency in plans, products and interactions has helped them to achieve a cult-like following, as customers know they’ll always receive the same experience in store.

This further supports the concept of keeping to the same design everywhere, as by carefully positioning your items – and using your floor space wisely – this can help to boost customer perceptions of your brand. More importantly, they will build:

  • Trust – consistent layouts across all stores helps to give your brand a personality in the eyes of consumers, making you appear trustworthy and dependable.
  • Recognition – there’ll be no danger of consumers becoming confused about who you are, what you do or what you can deliver, as they’ll instantly recognise your brand.
  • Quality – paying attention and taking the time to focus on the small details will encourage customers to associate your products/services/stores with quality.

There are other benefits to being consistent aside from strengthening the relationships you have with your customers. Choosing to have the same layout across all of your stores will also make the construction process quicker, more efficient and easier, as architects won’t have to waste time making adjustments or testing new materials; they’ll already have everything they need.

This is further reflected in the data…

Time and again research has proved that with the right design you can maximise profits and boost customer engagement.

Cons

There are definite perks to adopting visually consistent designs. Yet, there is a danger that your customers may eventually become bored, because your space is too predictable, repetitive and unstimulating. With nothing new to entice their interest, they may be drawn towards your competitors, or worse – they may accuse you of having no character or personality, and therefore label you unmemorable.

And this a common argument amongst some design agencies, with many claiming that familiarity can breed contempt.

However, the biggest con you need to be aware of is the possibility of designs/layouts not transferring easily across stores i.e. due to too much or too little space, or your design not matching your audience needs.

A prime example of this is the difference between city and country stores. What a city customer values will vary to that of a country customer, and as such, you can’t expect them to be satisfied with the exact same layout. Their expectations will clash.

Inconsistency

Pros

There are a growing number of brands who embrace the concept of making every store ‘unique’. For instance, skincare brand Aesop are well-known for using different architects to ensure that each of their stores is laid out differently. At the same time, they like tailor their store designs to match the demographic of each location (and its surroundings), as well as make a point of incorporating the history and culture of the place to help create a localised sense of value.

And this trend of ‘adapting to match the location’ is popular when it comes to this niche.

By moving away from ‘cookie cutter aesthetics’ and bringing life and character to each location; it is possible to appeal to new customer groups/demographics, and boost your overall client base. The key is to find a balance between tested-and-learned approaches, and trying to stay fresh.

Screwfix Fulham City Store Retail Exterior

Another perk to going this route, is that it gives you the chance to experiment and test out new ideas which could help your business to grow. From providing new spaces to supplying additional services/products; you can use these new stores to appeal to a wider range of clientele, as well as reinvent each and every space to suit their specific needs.

Ikea achieves this very well with their city-centre formats. Upon recognising that most city customers either won’t be attracted to their ‘big box stores’ or won’t be able to get to them easily; they reinvented their spaces to accommodate this information.

To summarise, by making every store ‘unique’, you can ensure that you’ll be recognised as:

  • Fresh – by evolving your designs and staying on trend, you can keep up with your customers and ensure that your business continues to grow, adapt and draw their attention.
  • Courageous – your reputation for being bold will inspire passion in your customers! They too will aspire to be seen as their ‘own person’ – even more so when they witness you striving for market leader position.
  • Producers of quality – this continued dedication towards your store designs, will translate into how customers perceive your products. If you’re so committed to keeping your stores relevant, then your products must be of equal quality.
  • Invested – aiming to be everything your customers want you to be and more, will make you equally as invested in succeeding and being the best you can be.

Cons

The biggest risk of making every store unique is that there is no standardised costing for new launches. Instead, every store will be a blank slate, meaning you could easily go over budget; make mistakes, or find that your design doesn’t have the desired effect.

Worse, because there is no history to support that this new store layout will work; you’ll enter the situation with no clear idea of whether your store will succeed or not.

 

As you can see, there are pros and cons to both strategies. Which route you take, will simply depend on where your audience preferences lie.

For that reason, we recommend that you do your research; make use of consumer decision trees, and consider your merchandising principles first, before you buy/design your store. Do that and you can use their fondness for brands, quality and colour/packaging to make a clear choice between being visually consistent or starting from scratch.

For more assistance with making the right design choice, contact our team of professionals at Resolution interiors today.