Architects who work for national brand retailers have the challenging job of designing beautiful buildings that also fit into brand guidelines. They have to focus heavily on creating a storefront that is immediately recognizable by consumers. One of the best ways to brand the exterior of a building is with building materials. The materials can be crucial in allowing the brand to stand out against the competition while remaining consistent from store to store.
Why is branding a storefront important?
Storefront branding for national chains is essential. Taco Bell wants to distinguish themselves from Del Taco and follows strict brand guidelines to ensure this happens. In the blog post How Your Retail Business Can Benefit From Storefront Branding, author Tony Baxter writes that the number one benefit of having a branded storefront is that you connect with your target audience as they are passing by. He goes on to say that you have just eight seconds to make that connection. The less branding your storefront offers, the more likely a person will choose to dine or shop elsewhere.
Baxter continues expressing the importance of branding as he writes, 'A building's exterior appearance is responsible for about 45 percent of a company's marketing image, so getting the storefront branding right can be extremely beneficial for business in the long term.' Not only does a brand need to focus on content messaging and advertising, they also need to establish their storefront as an extension of the brand.
The storefront also plays a vital role in the overall customer experience. Chris Tate, Nichiha Hospitality Division Sales Manager, explains, 'The storefront creates a brand identity that attracts the loyal customer base. Branded storefront elements need to be inviting and create attention that will drive new customer business while also welcoming the dedicated customers.'
How to use building materials in branding a storefront
Color, texture, and variety all play a part in branding a storefront. Using building materials allows branding an exterior to be seamless process. As Tate says, 'The building material selection is a very important element for brand exposure. Customers recognize a storefront branded design that creates a sense of confidence as they make choices on where to eat, shop and get convenience items as well as making hotel lodging choices.' These materials set the atmosphere for the brand before the customer ever enters the building.
Some of the best branded exteriors include pops of brand colors. These storefronts mix colors against materials such as stone and brick. Using a building material that allows brand colors to be incorporated can be essential in creating a branded feel. Nichiha's Illumination panels are used in the photo below to incorporate the brand color elements of aloft hotels. The color stands out against more traditional elements of the building and fits with the fun and modern feel of the hotel line.
Building materials also offer the ability to create variety and interest on an exterior. Using different textures can help the building stand out against the crowd. The Dunkin Donuts below shows how using a variety of building materials can elevate the storefront. The use of stone adds warmth to the exterior while allowing it to look modern and inviting. It also creates interest when paired with the other textures.
The importance of refreshing your storefront
One of the most important elements of national brand storefronts is the initiative to refresh the exterior as needed. Tate explains this saying, 'As brands continue to create new designs to attract customers, they also face a challenge with aged properties. The branded storefront then becomes a re-image program that can actually create new brand interest.'
Building materials are an easy solution to rebranding the exterior. They can add a fresh face to the store while proving to be an easy and cost-effective solution during renovations. They evolve the brand and provide the storefront with the elements needed to drive sales.
The storefront is clearly a vital piece of a national brand's marketing strategy. Building materials can help in personifying a brand while inviting customers inside. Have you used building materials to brand a building before? What do you find is most effective in elevating a brand's storefront? I know I am most confident when walking into a store that has an inviting easily recognizable exterior. There is something comforting about a familiar look and feel! Please share your thoughts and experiences with us in the comments below or on social media using #NichiChat.