Retail Better: Store of Brands vs. Branded Store

When we talk to clients about creating their strategy for their NTI, remodel, or concept store, we always ask, “What do you want to be when you grow up? Do you want to be a branded store or a store of brands?”

It’s the first step to understanding what direction you need to go with your retail environment. A great example of a

“Store of Brands” is 7-Eleven. When you enter one of their stores, you see the house brands they promote from inside the store which include Big Gulp® and Slurpee®. As they roll out the Laredo Taco brand, which is fundamentally an in-house QSR, they’ve introduced another brand to their portfolio.

There are several examples of a branded store and two that immediately come to mind are Wawa and QuikTrip. Wawa has a very loyal customer base that knows the cadence of their promotions. They know the store’s lingo. What they don’t have to know are specific brand names of products in the store. Soft drinks and frozen drinks don’t have any special names. Wawa presents short-term seasonal menu items that are broadly named, and the Gobbler comes to mind. It’s a turkey dinner available as a bowl or a sandwich. It’s a menu item, not a brand.

QuikTrip has their QuikShake®, a milkshake that is made in-store with soft-serve ice cream. It’s also a menu item. But overall, the products in the store are not branded, and QuikTrip has robust base of loyal customers.

There you have it. The Branded Store or the Store of Brands. Both are good strategies. Develop a store that matches your strategy and tells your story.

Retail Better: Declutter Your Stores’ Windows

Discover how to declutter store windows and improve your stores’ appearance while still conveying your big idea. GSP’s Chief Creative Officer Steven Cohen shares an industry secret on how retailers can accomplish these three tasks at the same time.

Pantone Color of the Year 2014: Radiant Orchid

Pantone just revealed the Pantone Color of the Year as PANTONE 18-3224 Radiant Orchid. This has become a Pantone tradition for the past decade where they have highlighted colors such as Emerald, Tangerine Tango, Turquoise and Tigerlily.  In order to determine the new color each year, Pantone looks for trends in a variety of industries such as technology, fashion and film.

New colors inspire new designs

Designers throughout the world use the Pantone system as a foundation for their designs.  Many look for product design inspiration and by specifically calling out a color, Pantone helps specific products stand out from the crowd.  Purple is associated with luxury, imagination, sophistication, rank, inspiration, nobility as well as madness and cruelty.

See also: Color is Significant Sales Driver

In the retail world, colors can help persuade customers’ buying decisions. Companies looking to launch a new product could utilize the new Radiant Orchid color in their packaging to give customers a feeling of sophistication when they are using the product.  A coffee shop, for instance, could launch a new flavor of coffee in the Spring in a vibrant Radiant Orchid cup to entice customers to try it.

Source: Press Release – Pantone Reveals Color of the Year for 2014

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Effective POP Design - Part 1 of 2: Typography and Color

Effective POP Design - Window

An effective sign must meet two challenges: it should capture the consumers’ attention and it should clearly communicate the offering. Designers achieve a balance between these two priorities by leveraging the basic elements of POP design: typography, color, product image and shape.

In this two-part article, we explore how top designers leverage these basic elements of POP design to develop signs that sell:


Visibility, legibility and readability are three main considerations when choosing the right typography and message for a point of purchase graphic or sign.

First, choose a bold typeface style that is easily legible and has sufficient spacing between letters. Sans serif fonts and open styles such as Verdana tend to be more legible. You should work with a lettering style that works visually, yet still affords prime readability. Avoid thin or fancy script lettering as they decrease visibility – especially when signs or banners must be read from a distance.

When designing your sign, consider how far away the readers will be. For example, if you are placing a sign inside your store, your text only needs to be visible to the people in the store. 1-2” letters will work. However, if you are hanging banners and want drivers on a nearby highway to be able to see them, design your letters at 3” or even larger. Your sign’s size will also determine the height of the lettering you should use. A good rule of thumb is every 1 inch of letter height provides 10 feet of readability with the best impact.

For readability, less is better – keep copy short and clear. For best results to engage the customer, use a “call to action” that is readable and understandable at a glance.


Choosing the right colors will not only help get your POP noticed, it can also help you set the tone or support an established company message. Use colors that are in your company’s logo, product’s logo or colors that will increase the “eye-catchability” of your sign. 85% of shoppers place color as a primary reason for why they buy a particular product.

A high color-contrast factor will make your signage easier to read, and there are
certain color combinations that are more legible than others. The most easily read combinations are black on yellow, white on black or yellow on black. Other effective color combinations are black or blue on white, and white on blue. Backgrounds and lettering with similar color intensities are not necessarily good choices, as they lack adequate contrast. Similarly, a too-bright background with colored lettering gives an illusion of motion
or vibration.

Color also has the unique ability to attract specific types of shoppers and change shopping behavior. Red, orange, black and royal blue attract impulse shoppers. Navy blue and teal attract shoppers on a budget and pink and sky blue attract traditional buyers. Yellow is an attention-getter, black represents power,
and green is positive and calming.

Also, it’s important to note that 8% of US males are color-blind. Use color combinations that retain contrast when viewed by color-blind people. Blue and yellow, for example, are a good combination, but blue-green or aqua on white or gray are difficult combinations for a color blind person to read.

Color is Significant Sales Driver

GSP provides design services for many leading retailers. Click here to see how our Design Services team can help bring your retail vision to life… from concept to store-level execution.

Creating Brand Standards Guide for Style Consistency

The visual vocabulary of your brand

Brand Standards Guides enable retailers to offer their employees an easy to read reference on how to represent their brand internally and externally. A complete Brand Standards guide not only lists the corporate colors and correct font… it provides samples of how to represent your brand in your advertising, in your internal communications and in your website. To make sure that your brand standards guide is complete and effective, we recommend following three simple steps:

1. Build your Brand Vocabulary
To establish a Brand Standards Guide, first create a list of all the visual components and written components that can be used to represent your brand. Your brand’s “visual vocabulary” would include company logo, font, color palette, POP formats, copy direction, photography style, web page templates as well as e-mail and internal office documents. You should also list the written components that communicate your brand such as descriptions of your company, descriptions of your products… even the “script” that your office uses when answering your phone. An effective brand standards guide should show how employees can use all of these components to represent your brand.

2.Show your brand in action
Create a list of all of the brand touch points you have with your customers and within your organization, and show how to properly make your brand a part of these interactions. For example, show how to properly use your logo and color palette in POP, billboards, websites, and web-based banner ads. Create templates for internal presentations, e-mail signatures and internal office documents to ensure that your employees “live the brand.” And think about how your associates can activate the brand through the way in which they greet and thank customers.

3. Make the brand accessible to employees
Make the brand accessible by compiling your brand components and your examples of the brand in use in a well-organized brand standards booklet that you can print and hand to your employees. Include a Table of contents that quickly directs employees to key components such as proper logo usage and acceptable type faces. Include your company mission, vision and values in the document. Show “Dos” and “Don’ts”, so users understand that the goal is to not simply use the right logo but to use the right logo in the right way. And make sure that an explanation of your Brand Standards guide is a part of your employee orientation.

In summary, it is essential that all employees and active partners adhere to your brand standards guide. It will solidify your brand across all communications and strengthen your stores (company) position in the market. Remember, brands are not built overnight. Reinforce your standards every day to make your brand come to life.


Color is Significant Sales Driver

Color is the Most Important Factor for POP and Shelf Impact

Studies show that it takes about five seconds to locate and select a given product, which occurs when it is visible to the passing shopper. Color enhances on-shelf visibility since it is the mechanism that places emphasis on certain areas. The same holds true for point-of-purchase (POP) signage.

Choosing the right colors is the most important step in graphic design for retail products and POP promotions. The appropriate use of color can also increase brand recognition by 80%, and brand recognition directly links to consumer confidence.

Consider the phenomenal success of Heinz EZ Squirt Blastin’ Green ketchup. More than 10 million bottles were sold in the first seven months following its introduction, resulting in $23 million in sales – the highest sales increase in the brand’s history. All because of a simple color change.

The human eye and brain experience color physically, mentally and emotionally. As a result, colors themselves have meaning. Color symbolism is often a cultural agreement and opinions about the associations are varied and sometimes conflicting.

Red represents passion, enthusiasm, excitement, heat and anger. It suggests speed, action and stimulates heart rate, breathing and appetite. Red cars are stolen most often. Yellow is associated with caution, wisdom, optimism and radiance. Pale yellow can enhance concentration (used for legal pads). Blue represents knowledge, contemplation as well as detachment. Blue causes the body to produce calming chemicals and is relaxing. Green represents money, growth, healing, nature and also greed, envy and nausea.

Purple is associated with luxury, imagination, sophistication, rank, inspiration, nobility as well as madness and cruelty. Orange represents creativity, stimulation, health, whimsy and trendiness. Orange rooms speak of friendliness and fun, and get people thinking and talking. Black is associated with power, sophistication, solitude, mystery, fear, mourning and remorse. White is associated with light and purity. It represents cleanliness, sacredness, simplicity, truth and marriage.

The gender of the intended audience is also an important factor to consider when choosing colors. According to various studies over the years, women can discern more difference in colors than men, are more flexible and diverse in their color preferences, prefer soft colors and are more likely than men to have a favorite color. Men prefer bright colors but are also more tolerant of achromatic colors (colors with zero saturation – grays, white or black).

The cultural significance of certain colors is also a consideration in design. For instance, red represents masculinity in France and the color of mourning in South Africa. In Latin America, purple indicates death while in Japan represents enlightenment.

A lot to keep in mind when choosing a color palette for a product packaging design project or a POP display.

Most designers seek a color scheme that engages the viewer and provides a balanced visual experience. But the starting point for all color selection should be what combination of colors will best convey the desired meaning and audience? If those colors are clichéd and overused, what are the best alternatives? Can the effect be refined by a slight modification of color choice?

According to the Color Design Workbook by Adams Morioka and Terry Stone there are eight rules for building a color palette:

1. Figure out the purpose
2. Review color basics, meanings and associations
3. Choose a dominant color, then accent colors
4. Select shades, then vary them
5. Look at compatibility of hues
6. Limit the number of colors
7. Put the colors in action
8. Keep a logbook of color palettes that work

The great 19th-century writer and critic John Ruskin once said, “Color is the most sacred element in all visual things.” Color stimulates and works synergistically with all of the senses, symbolizes abstract concepts and thoughts, and produces an aesthetic or emotional response. Whether we realize it or not, color affects our decision-making process and can lower our sales resistance.

When frozen foods first appeared, they were packaged in ice-green or snow-blue containers with pictures of arctic images. They didn’t attract the eye of the average consumer, until they were re-packaged in warmer colors that suggested the appetizing appearance of the re-heated food. Colors should effectively represent the product’s intended positive outcome or feeling after using or consuming the product. That will elicit the positive emotional response necessary to drive sales.

Color also has the unique ability to attract specific types of shoppers and change shopping behavior. Red, orange, black and royal blue attract impulse shoppers. Navy blue and teal attract shoppers on a budget and pink and sky blue attract traditional buyers.

In the retail world, with the essential need to engage the customer, we must embrace the power of color to help us enhance brand awareness, product selection and ultimately drive sales. Source: KISSmetrics

Retailer Focus: Pret A Manger

Brand and product focus is recipe for success

Pret A Manger is a UK-based store that creates handmade, natural preservative-free food. Pret opened in London in 1986 and arrived in America in 2000 – opening the first U.S. store in New York City.

Pret develops stores slowly… one at a time and incorporates a simple philosophy where the product is hero and the brand is front and center. This concept creates a Wow factor and the end result is continued success and expansion.

There are currently over 250 Pret stores. Most are in the UK where Pret is a household name, and new stores are opening in Hong Kong, New York, Washington DC and Chicago.

The branded star image is prominent and used consistently throughout the store – providing a strong brand awareness experience for the consumer. The star is incorporated on the storefront signs, promotional signage and all product packaging. Having the star image on all the offerings and signage doesn’t take away from the store, but rather contributes to the overall brand.

Another strength of Pret A Manger is the simple, straightforward messaging in their signage and packaging. The graphical use of “NEW” and “I’M BACK” on the packaging demonstrates that they are listening to customer feedback and want to communicate product and menu changes to them.

Key lessons from Pret A Manger:
• Own a symbol – and use it everywhere
• Create a consistent image across store design and product packaging
• Create in-store marketing programs to highlight your products that are easy to execute
• Listen to your customers – bring back favorite products and add new ones they’d like to have

The combination of all-natural tasty food, innovative store and packaging design, and a well-executed brand image is the secret to Pret A Manger’s success. Well done Pret. Bon appetit!

Add an In-store Coffee Bar

A sit-down coffee area can build brand loyalty and increase sales

In-store Coffee Bar

Looking for new ways to drive traffic into your stores? Add a store within your store. And a coffee bar could be your best bet. According to a WhiteWave Foods study on coffee consumers, coffee is the third-most-consumed beverage in the world behind water and soda. 150 billion cups of coffee are consumed in the United States every year and consumers average 12 coffee drinks per week.

Add an In-store Coffee BarOnly 11% of consumers say they never drink brewed coffee. One-third of coffee consumers drink it multiple times per day and the specialty-coffee segment is growing at 20% per year.

Very compelling statistics. So how to go about creating a successful in-store coffee shop? Creating a consistent image is important. If your overall brand is built on low prices and you drop in a high-end coffee bar, it’s a confusing message to customers. Do you cater to discount shoppers or higher earning latte sippers? Choose an image and stick with it.

An upscale coffee area can be a great way to attract younger shoppers. Adding amenities such as a gas fireplace, nicer seats and tables, flat screen TV and WiFi access can be worth it in the long run. Younger shoppers are lucrative because of what they develop into – you’re building brand loyalty with them over time.

Coffee services aren’t just for generation Y – all shoppers appreciate a place to sit down. Especially in small towns, in-store coffee shops can become the unofficial community gathering spot. And, the coffee area can boost bakery, deli and rest of store area sales by 15%.

The coffee bar could be self-service complete with a large assortment of coffees, creamers, sweeteners and flavorings, or it could be fully staffed. A coffee area can also get you started on the way to offering a complete dine-in area – gradually adding new items such as pastries, smoothies, salads, sandwiches, wraps and hot lunch foods.

Build an in-store experience for your customers

Improved in-store experience leads to improved store sales

Oftentimes, we focus on the details of promotions and that next challenge out in the stores – only to miss the, well – rain forest for the trees. Building an amazing in-store experience doesn’t need to mean re-doing the entire store. With careful planning and creativity, you can build a program that drives additional traffic from the street to the store, without the need for an expensive overhaul. Just ask Open Pantry…

Open Pantry is a convenience store retailer supplying 26 stores throughout Milwaukee and Madison, Wisconsin.

Open Pantry wanted to add to is coffee family, drive additional traffic into the stores and promote a more environmental message to its consumer.

Open Pantry needed to find a way to inform their clients of a new coffee and make it exciting enough for customers to come into the store.

Open Pantry launched the Rainforest Alliance coffee campaign. The campaign promotes the new coffee blend that is farmed without harming the rainforests by leveraging a unique in-store experience developed by GSP.

GSP stepped in and designed a rainforest habitat to incorporate the rainforest look and feel into each store. The coffee area was transformed to be a rainforest complete with jungle-themed designs, steam from a fog machine and a motion triggered lightning display as people approached the area. Other areas of the store, especially the outside, pump area, were affixed with the graphics and frogs all inviting the consumer to the newly transformed area.

“We’ve built this significant growth at full price at full profit on our coffee, without hurting our brand image at all by lowering that price,” says Fiene, Chief Operating Officer of Open Pantry. “GSP helped us create a very unique experience for our customers, which generated new buzz within our market space and has led to a great sales increase.”

Open Pantry's free water with coffee campaignThe theme not only created excitement in an interactive environment for customers, it also promoted the free water with a coffee campaign. The overall campaign is estimated at increasing coffee unit sales by 18% this past year.

“The cherry on top of the whole thing,” says Fiene, “is we create an interaction between the consumer and the employee, which is the best thing you can do in a convenience store.  GSP was a great partner on this project and I look forward to solving the next retailing challenge with them.