Lessons Grocers Can Learn From Department Stores: Lesson Four—Brand Expression

Are you trying to spotlight your corporate brand or the branded and private-label products you carry? Are you a “branded house” or a “house of brands?” Design and architecture play a major role in delivering your brand’s overarching message or minimizing it. What you should do depends on whether you’re trying to make your brand memorable and different compared to simply being a price leader.

Brand Expression
Roche Bros. Downtown Crossing

Grocery: It’s tough to tell a brand story amid a sea of metal gondolas and 15-foot perimeters with refrigerated cases and coolers. In most grocery stores, the brand story is relegated to signage above cases, the cash register light poles, and a series of black-and-white historic downtown images at the front.

Department stores: Proprietary architecture typically frames each category and brand, letting shoppers know that the store has a wide selection of curated merchandise or immersive “shop-in-shops” of other brands.

Advice: Own the envelope. Before the perimeter fixtures plans are finalized, carve out a foot or two where vertical architectural elements can bring aspects of a brand down to customers, so they can literally engage with the brand. Besides just a Starbucks shop in the coffee aisle, introduce highlighted zones within the aisle that describe special services, categories, and brands.

This is Lesson Five of “Lessons Grocers Can Learn From Department Stores.” Make sure to check out Lessons One, Two, and Three if you haven’t already.

Andrew McQuilkin

For over 30 years, Andrew has served in key design leadership roles in the retail industry. In his role as Retail Leader, Andrew is responsible for leading the retail design and architecture team’s expertise in branding, store planning, interior design, merchandising, building architecture and rollout for retail clients. Andrew has extensive knowledge and background in the design and implementation of department stores, vendor shops, specialty stores, large format and discount stores with award winning retail designs including Store of the Year Awards in 1995, 2000, 2001 and 2003.