Store design and brand thinking has gone astray for many retail brands and it seems that stores are either being too creative or too analytical and are missing out on a blend or balance of the two. The most successful stores achieve a balance of the two hemispheres.
Former Burberry CEO (now at Apple) Angela Arendhts rather tellingly pointed out that Burberry cherished both the right and left-brain, but more importantly relished thinking that was a union of both. Her current partnership with Apple’s design guru Jonathan Ive is already revitalising the look of its stores and taking the brand into new territory that fits a changing product base. The store in Belgium, for example, is filled with trees and boasts huge glass walls, doubtless very creative. However, it is bringing the outside world into the store, thereby underlining the unquestioned mobility and freedom of Apple’s products, which shows the logical left-brain at work.
It’s a big statement that is ‘on brand’ and the result of both hemispheres working together. Achieving this balance is easier than you may think. It simply requires designers to understand more about how consumers think and behave. This is easily achieved if designers work with retail marketers, psychologists and digital specialists to address a store’s ‘big picture’, thereby enabling the space to deliver everything the customer wants. Increasingly, this means understanding the basics of what makes shoppers ‘tick’. A retail psychologist, for example, will be able to tell you that your fate is sealed in just 1,000th of a second, as that is how long it takes for people to get their first impression of your store. And a digital expert will tell you that IT ‘bells and whistles’ should not be too prominently on display, but available and on demand and strategically placed. What will change the fortunes of flagging brands on the high street is the creation of a team where both left and right brains are given an equal shout, a team that decides the retail destiny of the brand. I think that more collaboration in this style will throw up some unexpected and enviably successful retail projects.