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What Is Your Brand Saying? 

Jonathan Adler NYC

These days, digital elements and social media touch points in brick & mortar retail environments are as essential as the interior finishes, and should be just as fully integrated. There’s no such thing as offline anymore, and shopping has become a bit of information overload, but it raises another issue for retailers—many seem to be a step behind on the actual digital content and messages they deliver. With digital’s constantly moving imagery providing a platform for multiple messages to be broadcast over a single spot, it becomes a rather tall order to maintain the content and keep it fresh. This is often more than some brands can afford in their operations budgets, especially after they’ve just spent large sums for the hardware and software in the first place.

This dilemma has created a new trend (or perhaps it’s a harkening back to the basics) of using static graphics in lieu of, or to supplement, the digital. Static messaging, while less flexible and much more long-term, can often make as impactful a statement, with the added bonus of being a fraction of the cost. I’ve been seeing more retailers use this kind of strategic messaging in their stores lately, and frankly, I think it’s a smart move. I mean, there’s tons of cool digital and interactive stuff going on, and that’s all great to have as part of the customer experience, but static messages can be both smart and memorable, often with a touch of sarcasm and a pinch of whimsy. Moreover, it’s an authentic opportunity for a retailer to display its tone of voice.

Converse NYC.

But, what do these messages really “say” to customers? They can say a brand is hip and cool, or that it’s a bit old-school. They can be about setting the tone for the customer journey or just about making the customer feel good.

Olive & Bettes NYC

Some might have an inspirational message, albeit in an odd setting, like this sign in a NYC restaurant’s men’s room (that will remain nameless).

NYC restaurant men’s room

Either way, these messages can really heighten the customer experience with some memorable tidbits. Sometimes less really is more when it comes to in-store communications. And sometimes a poignant message can leave a lasting impression, regardless of how it manifests itself in the space. So keep your eyes peeled for these gems when you're out in your favorite stores. You may just love the message they give.

Mark Brungo is a senior associate in Gensler’s New York office and a regional retail practice area leader. A registered architect in New York and Pennsylvania, Mark brings his 25 years of experience to every project, many of which have earned design awards and national recognition. His versatility as a design manager and his excellence in client relationships allows for a smooth project design and delivery process that aligns Gensler’s service goals with the client’s objectives. Contact him at mark_brungo@gensler.com.