Monday, 7 November 2011

Branding Space & Place. Glasgow Trip.

Last week I took a trip to Glasgow to examine the brand identity of places and spaces in the area.

‘The Brand Gap’ by Marty Neumeier defines Brand Identity as ‘The outward expression of a brand, including its name, trademark, communications, and visual appearance.’

Firstly I had a look at Merchant City. Merchant City is an area in the city centre of Glasgow which has recently been rebranded by Graven Images. Before rebranding they looked at the positives and negatives of the area. The positives were that it is a thriving, regenerating and attractive area. The negatives were that no one knew the boundaries of it, its identity was weak and its brand was under promoted. After seeing the area for myself I felt that some of the negatives still have to be addressed, to me the boundaries were unclear. Street signs showed when you were in Merchant City but I didn’t know exactly where it began and where it ended. It is an attractive area with lots of beautiful architecture which suited its high end stores such as ‘Mulberry’ and ‘Ralph Lauren’. However some areas were run down and covered in graffiti which didn’t make its identity consistent.

I think that places are perhaps harder to brand as it is an environment that can’t be strictly controlled unlike the interiors of a store that has constant security and staff to make sure everything is in line and up to standard. 

Later I went to the Apple Store. The grand building reflected the quality of its products. The space inside was very modern, the products were laid out on wooden tables giving an informal homely vibe which made people more inclined to become familiar with the product. The fact that the store was so welcoming links with Apples laid back, user/customer friendly image. Staff were highlighted in blue t-shirts and were swarming around the store ready to help, one member of staff to every person.  The store made me think of Apple as; friendly, helpful, modern, of high quality and cool, successfully portraying its brand.

All Saints was another store I viewed. Its interior was quite industrial with stage lights hanging from the ceiling, cogs and machinery all around and a battered wooden floor. In the window were rows and rows of sewing machines. This store reflected the style of clothes sold, the way the clothes are made, the seams stitched in a miss matched fashion was shown by having sewing machines visible. The industrial theme shows the brand as being, edgy, trendy, grungy and unique.

John Lewis is not my favourite shop I find it too chaotic and would rather not shop somewhere where there is an endless selection of items on offer. The space is very busy but is laid out in sections according to product. Before you enter there is a map telling you what floor you’re on and what products are available on each floor. The make up was found at the front leading onto jewellery, accessories, stationary then men’s fashion. Everything is laid out in a certain way to make the shopper buy. Products that customers won’t go looking for are placed by the escalators in the hope that they will notice them and buy. Big brand, big store.

Lastly I spotted a few differences between the two main shopping centres in Glasgow, Buchanan Galleries and Princes Square. Buchanan Galleries consisted of high street shops for a mixed age group. The interior is very basic. It has a food court which consists of takeaway food stands such as Burger King. I feel it’s a place that is aimed towards families spending a day shopping or teenagers hanging out on Saturdays.

Princes Square on the other hand, has a brighter, more luxurious interior with wooden floors and spiralling stairs. This is reflected by the high end more expensive stores. There are fewer stores within Princes Square; it seems they have gone for quality over quantity. Instead of a food court they have a selection of restaurants where people sit in to eat. I think young professionals would be the main clientele for this shopping centre.

I don’t know a lot about store design yet but I’m hoping to change this through my research in block two of my advertising and branding module. However I think if you look closely enough you can see some of the signals shops are sending to attract their preferred customer and make them buy.

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