It’s part of the continuing trend to create something new to capture customer attention. Last week, floral champion Laura Ashley announced their intention to open a £5.8m, 49-room ‘brand showcase’ hotel, allowing guests to immerse themselves in its products and interior design sensibilities – albeit, rather bizarrely, in Hertfordshire, but that’s neither here nor there. The brand is experiencing an increase in sales with the current fashion for florals and English interiors – plus the rediscovery of 1980s colour.
It’s interesting that the brand which fell off our collective radar years ago is reasserting itself in the manner of Ralph Lauren, Armani, Versace, Bulgari and Missoni – who themselves recently provided the soft furnishings for two of the Four Seasons Resort Maui’s ultra-luxury poolside cabanas.
It’s a reminder that in this world of too much, too little, too late that brands have to adapt to hold our interest – and appeal to consumers in new and novel ways. With brands faltering, flailing and failing, it pays to think differently, reinforce your core message, brand values or even branch out into different areas.
Brands get creative for physical stand-out
Gregg’s bakery chain launched their own-brand café in Newcastle, promising to challenge the big chains with lower prices and free WiFi…
Cadbury set up a Cocoa House at Bluewater shopping centre, creating retro ice-cream, afternoon teas and pastries to capture the essence of the nostalgic British brand…
Novelty value makes headlines in a fast-paced retail environment where standing out is a constant challenge for marketers; Amazon and eBay both took their presence into the real world for a limited period and Net-A-Porter created a Window Shop in Covent Garden that brought fashionista customers together using a combination of augmented reality, app and real store.
Truly clever brands keep evolving
Truly clever brands are limbering up before the race for the finish line; adidas launched a new Runbase concept store in Tokyo that not only allowed customers to buy but hire running shoes and clothing, attend weekly running workshops, and make use of showers and lockers after a run on the nearby track. Ikea – the retailer who pioneered the idea of customers walking through room sets – is now selling flat-pack homes with their own plot of land at their store in Gateshead. And Mercedez-Benz debuted its latest range of super-stylish ergonomic furniture at the high-minded Milan Design Week in March, blending the brand’s luxury credentials with designs inspired by its cars.
Even the humble Hellmann’s mayonnaise recently launched some new peppy flavours that included introduced hints of caramelized onion or a hint of wasabi to their traditional formula, showing how tastebuds have changed since the 1970s.
It’s this kind of risk-taking that innovative brands need to build into their DNA, or risk falling into the Jurassic Park of branding – when you ‘stand still and they can’t see’.