August 23, 2012

Why a brand is much more than a logo

Having a beautifully designed logo is of no use unless it relates to the product you’re selling. The most successful companies take their products as the starting point and build upon them to create an appealing and relevant brand identity that is applied across the organisation. In a mall context, the principle is the same. The product you’re selling just happens to be a retail and leisure experience.

A brand strategy phase is essential to developing a brand with longevity and purpose. Understanding the owner’s aspirations for the mall and looking at its attractions and benefits help to establish the positioning, values and mission. These inform the design of the visual identity, incorporating the logo, graphic style, typography and imagery. Communications such as brochures, magazines and websites should be obvious reflections of the brand and visual identity. At Médiacité in Liege, our application of the brand involved taking elements of the logo to create a ribbon effect across materials, including a digital animation.

However, there are more subtle channels the brand should infiltrate too.In terms of mall design, the architecture is generally established before branding is even considered. However, this is of real importance to the retail experience you are creating for your visitors – is it a modern, glass construction or a more traditional building with classic detailing? The essence of a brand should be visible from the environment. In this way, the design of signage and interiors should also take the brand as its primary inspiration. In graphic terms, elements such as colours, type and pictograms are salient aspects to reference, but form, materials and finishes can convey the brand in much the same way. A mall with an upmarket positioning might have leather furniture and high gloss surfaces, whereas those with a more ‘for everyone’ approach could use rounded, welcoming shapes and soft, homely textures. For example, our bespoke pod seating at Corvin, Budapest takes circular elements from the mall logo with comfortable fabrics to encourage visitors to rest their feet between shops:

Aside from design, it is also essential that staff understand the mall brand and can act as its ambassadors. They must believe the brand values and deliver them through their behaviour and appearance. If you are creating a service focused mall environment, staff should be extremely helpful, attentive and proactive. Visually, their uniforms are also a reflection of the brand and should not be underestimated.

This all-encompassing approach may sound complicated and excessive, but really it’s quite simple: once the brand is established it can be applied across all aspects of the mall to ensure a consistent experience for the visitor – one that they can identify with, enjoy and return to time and again.