In my recent post on design*sponge for the Biz Ladies series, I discussed 'maximizing your visual impact'. I shared some advice on how to express your business brand image in various ways. Yesterday, I was at a local shopping center and came face to face with a perfect example of how this concept works..... or, rather, how it doesn't work when you don't utilize it!
See that logo up above? What do you think of when you see that? Tanning. Sun. Warmth. Relaxation. The Tropics. Summer. You picture being surrounded by warmth, right? Even the colors in the logo are warm and vibrant, supporting those ideas.
Inside the doors of this establishment, you'll find THIS:
OK, well, maybe they were thinking that you get hot while tanning (not really) and need a nice cool atmosphere around you. Or that in sunny climes, like the tropics, the sky is aqua blue and the water is bright green. Maybe that was their train of thought. Maybe. I'm not sure. Most likely, they just picked some colors out of the blue (pun intended).
I DO know that the colors of minty green and aqua are not universally flattering to skin tones - even tan skin tones. And when you are in the business of helping people look good, then you darn well better make them look good! How much more golden, gorgeous, and TAN people would look if they were surrounded by golden, warm and SUNNY colors? This is one of the most common mis-steps by businesses: Not seeing their environment as an extension of their logo, brand, and business image.
The simple act of relating your business name, tagline, logo, and colors to your environment is like visual merchandising 101 - but instead of just products, your whole business is what's on display. You have a chance to surround your customer with your brand, and it can make or break the image that the public has of your business. In this case, 'maximizing visual impact' was simply a matter of what paint colors were used on the walls & ceiling. And the opportunity to leverage their brand was missed.
Had I been advising them, I would have guided them to make successful choices that extended from those paint colors to the furnishings chosen, the music played on the sound system, and the scent wafting through the rooms, as well as the apparel that the employees wore each day. Every detail could have expressed the brand image.
But it didn't. Maybe that's why the shop now looks like this.
PLease understand that I'm not picking on this business, I'm using them as a way to make a point. You have to plan out every facet of your business. You have to create your brand image, and make decisions about how you will present your services & products to your customers in every single visual medium you use. It doesn't happen by accident. It happens by design.
Those bright happy colors aren't wrong, they are just wrong for that particular business. Put a gelato or ice cream or cupcake company in there, with those aqua & mint walls. Add a soft chocolate brown as an accent color by painting large circles or swirly designs all over the walls, and bring in some warm globe lighting and mod tables & chairs. Create a private party room, play some upbeat happy tunes. Pump in vanilla scent. Call it Frosted or something fun and you'd have a cool, hip, fun place to hang out.
Or, here's one: There's a chiropractor located right next to this (now) empty space. Change the wall colors to soft blue and tan, bring in some soft canvas seating and big glass vases filled with seashells & rocks, and add tons of white towels and some floaty sheer floor-to-ceiling curtains. Pop in a CD of ocean waves, pump in coconut scent, and name the place Sea of Tranquility - it's a massage & spa business ready to go within a few days.
Do you see how easy this is?! It's not kitschy, it's taking an image - the image of what your business IS and what it offers customers - and bringing it to life using every tool at your disposal. You can do this! You need to do this, my friends, because business requires making an additional effort now. What's worked before won't work now, or in the future. Consumers want more. They want special. They want unique. You have to go the extra mile. As my friend Sue Kirby espouses, 'Why do when you can OVERdo?!'
I'd ask, 'Why NOT Overdo? What have you got to lose - except customers...'