We are excited to share a guest post from Katerina Kohlwes, principal designer of Mindful Design Consulting, a leading interior design firm based in San Diego, California. Mindful Design Consulting branded over 300 small businesses, many of which are dessert shops, within the last 12 years in business.
The following article was inspired by two trends in dessert shop businesses. First, more shops are changing hands. Second, existing shops are aging, with quite a few celebrating a decade in the business. Both are good reasons to consider a slight or a full rebranding.
If you have just bought an old ice cream or frozen yogurt shop and want to turn it into a more profitable business, consider rebranding. Quality products, good customer service and a pleasant ambiance are not enough to guarantee success: There are many other businesses that offer the same. Rebranding adds the final touch to this combo by making you memorable and helping you stand out from the crowd.
Rebranding is also a good idea if your business is getting old and seems to stagnate. In this case, cleaning up or redefining your brand means showcasing what makes you unique and being clear about your message. Creating a new brand – or polishing the one you already have – helps you connect with your customers on an emotional level so that they remember you and return for more.
Should You Rebrand?
Your brand is your image to the world, and this image needs to be appealing and distinctively you. This includes your logo, slogan, colors, marketing collateral and interior design. Since your physical store has the most influence on how customers perceive you, a redesigning of your space is sometimes necessary.
Here are a few signs that your ice cream or frozen yogurt shop may need a remodel:
- Your last remodel was more than 5 years ago, and your store looks old and worn.
- Entering your shop does not make you feel happy or inspired.
- Your furniture and finishes are run-down, broken, peeling or faded.
- The lighting leaves your space dark and depressing.
- Your branding, graphics and interior space do not put forward a cohesive idea and are all over the place.
- Your sales are not as good as they should be.
If your budget does not allow for a complete remodel, do not worry. There are plenty of inexpensive ways to give your store a facelift and revive interest in your business. The best part is that a remodel is a great opportunity for a new grand opening. This creates buzz and attracts both old customers and curious newcomers.
If you decide that rebranding is for you, here is where you should start:
Logo, Signage and Marketing Collateral
Your logo, signage and all marketing collateral must be in line with each other. Don’t just fill your windows and walls with mismatched graphics and call it decorating. Don’t ignore the problem when your logo and your outside signage don’t have anything in common. Don’t settle for subpar interior design that looks cheap, improvised and accidental. All these suggest bad quality and lack of professionalism.
Instead, work on creating a clear, unified message. Invest in a clean, professionally designed logo, with colors, fonts and graphics that truly represent you. Employ the help of an experienced designer to do a remodel along the same lines. Do not try to imitate other brands’ logos, since you will end up looking unprofessional. Be yourself, target your own demographic, and trust your designer with what is current in the industry and what the modern customers want.
The best advice for residential spaces holds for businesses, too: The cheapest way to refresh your commercial interior is to treat your walls to a fresh coat of paint. You can do this in as little as one day, with the additional benefit that paint can hide wall imperfections and enhance your store’s best features.
Use colors that match or complement your logo and style, and don’t be afraid to go bold. With a few gallons of paint, your ice cream or frozen yogurt store can turn into wonderful oasis of color that reminds customers of delicious aromas and incites their appetites.
While a simple paint job can make a space look fresh and new, don’t be afraid to take things to the next level with custom wall graphics. These come with a triple advantage. First, they are much cheaper than wall finishes such as tile or decorative panels. Second, large, dramatic graphics with a huge visual impact can by themselves go a long way in defining your brand. Third, such graphics can give your business the much needed “cool” factor and turn it into an Instagram-worthy destination.
Using neon signs are another easy way to attract the social-media crowd. Once just a common outdoor fixture, the neon sign has made its way into the interior designs of commercial spaces, offering a pleasant glow, a hip casual look, and an inexpensive device for delivering your message. For the Instagram enthusiast, neon signs create a very desirable picture background since they suggest fun and often make a statement. Everything that encourages sharing and helps spread the world about your business is a welcome addition to your interior decor.
Remember, however, that both wall graphics and neon signs must be in tune with your message and add to your brand image. Work with your logo designer or branding specialist to come up with the best graphics, products and ideas that enhance your unique brand.
While wall paint and graphics can do wonders for the overall look and feel of your interior space, furniture is the one element that customers come in direct contact with while in your store. Chipped, cracked or peeled tables and chairs will not do, so updating your furniture is not optional.
This is another opportunity to work towards your brand image. Choosing furniture in colors that complement your brand shows your customers that you care about every detail. Chairs that match your logo colors are another potential plus. Finally, new furniture allows you to add some drama to your space by creating new color combinations or by balancing out your neutral walls with some vibrant color shades.
Many business owners treat lighting more like an afterthought than what it really is – one of the most important elements of commercial interior decor. It is your lighting that creates the ambiance, enhances the best features of your space, and allows the colors of your interior to shine.
Choosing the right light fixtures is not easy, since they must simultaneously perform on three fronts: function, looks and maintenance. Consider your choices against each of these and find the best compromise between the three. For instance, you may prefer glass fixtures, but they are dust magnets that require constant cleaning. Edison light bulbs look perfect in an urban or industrial interior, but they provide little illumination, so they work only in tandem with more powerful light sources.
If you are on a budget, the best way to start is adding some track lights. While they provide generous illumination, they can also be directed towards the elements you want to highlight, such as display shelves, tables, logo and wall graphics. Working on spotlight placement first allows you to create the right atmosphere and influence customer behavior, all within a small budget.
By following the four steps above, you can go a long way in creating a powerful brand, even with limited financial resources. As long as you have a clear, authentic message, and your brand, including your commercial interior, expresses it in a cohesive way, you have a real chance to create a loyal and enthusiastic following.
If you are thinking to open a new business or are in the process of rebranding and remodeling your existing business, contact us to get a free consultation from Mindful Design Consulting. Click HERE to price your project design.