Psychogeographical Branding // CTS2

This week in Brand Busting, we went to Westfield, Stratford City. During our time there we had to visit a number of outlets and we had to consider what message the brand was trying to convey and how they did it. We did this through looking at a number of things including; the window display, indoor décor, the staff, how casual/formal the environment was and signage and packaging. By analysing all of these things, we were able to figure out the message of each shop and how the experience made us feel as individuals.

We began by figuring out what shops would be good for our investigation. We decided to focus on three main retailers, Primark, Build a Bear Workshop and Tiger. We chose these shops as we believe that they are quite contrasting and believe that they would each give us different results, enabling us to compare.

We began in Primark, a popular affordable fashion store aimed at women, men and children. Our first initial impression of the shop was that it was affordable and aimed at such a wide audience as in the window display there was men’s, women’s and children’s clothes all with price tags showing how cheap their clothing was. I feel like this would draw people into the establishment as the prices on the models would attract customers. Upon entering the shop it was clear just how varied their styles were, there appeared to be something for everyone and the vast scale of the store allowed you to wander around easily. Although the layout was clear, the shop seemed very cramped and the small spaces between each unit of stock seemed quite claustrophobic. The main décor was minimalistic with black and white fittings that appeared to be slightly clinical. In regards to the staff uniform and behaviour, the shop floor staff were dressed in black trousers and blue and black baseball shirts with the words “I love Primark” printed on them. The staff often behaved casually and seemed very relaxed in their role. We then approached the till area where the wiring system was clear and also stocked with products. Here we saw that the store also sold other products other than just clothes such as phone accessories, stationary, sweets and make up.

During my visit to Primark I personally felt quite stressed and overwhelmed. The size of the store was good for allowing a huge range of products to be sold, but made me feel intimidated. I believe that the shop made a good design choice by having minimalist décor as it contrasts with the large amounts of stock but believe that their store departments could be spaced out further as it would allow the customers to navigate much easier and also would put more focus on the products themselves. The fact that Primarks staff were in uniform is good as you would be able to locate them if help was needed but due to their laid back attitude and casual mannerisms, customers looking for advice be deterred. The fact that you can get more that just clothes in the store is good as a move like this would automatically widen your target audience. Overall, I liked the fact that the Primark was affordable and had a huge range but found the shopping experience to be stressful and overwhelming.

The next retailer we went to was Build a Bear Workshop. Build a Bear Workshop is a shop where children have the chance to make their own Bear, an experience that focuses on small details when building the bear such as stuffing, hearts and voice boxes. The window display of the store was very clever as it used character bears from the latest children’s films to get the attention of children, from here the entrance of the shop was very pleasant I was greeted by friendly uniformed staff who were happy to help and wearing Build a Bear branded aprons. On the other end of the store there seemed to be some sort of party with lots of children building bears. The staff were child friendly and seemed like lots of fun as they kept the children engaged. The shop played fun, bouncy music which would interest children. The interior of the store wasn’t cramped and each of the bears was displayed well around the room. The store made great use of the space allowing them to focus on things such as the theme of the décor to give the appearance of a large toy workshop. The products in the store was almost set out to represent a real clothes shop, but for bears – a great example of role play/ pretend play, vital for a child’s development and growth. The atmosphere of this shop was very relaxed and seemed to be a great environment for kids.

Overall I thouroughly enjoyed this particular shopping experience, I felt very nostalgic and thought that the whole store did a great job at targeting their audience. The shop is child friendly, the layout is clear and the colours, music and especially the staff, would keep children entertained from the moment the walked into the shop. The product placement in the window display would defiantly attract children into the shop and I feel that the casual, child friendly atmosphere  would encourage parents to buy a build a Bear toy from the establishment. At no point during my visit did I feel stressed and the staff were extremely helpful, a great retailer!

Finally we decided to go to Tiger, a lifestyle shop that sells a huge array of products from games and stationary to homeware and spices. Their window display was very varied but showed just how many products they sold, sometimes even having a repeated display of each thing. Many of the products that they had on display were useful and also had a novelty aspect to them, making them different from what other retailers may sell. When entering the shop, a simplistic low display allowed you to see right through to the back of the store. This gave a sense of openness and freedom which was soon dismissed when actually venturing around the shop. The floor plan was designed in such a way that it was a one way system from the entrance to the tills, although this could be seen as a good marketing strategy as it may pressure people into buying something and therefore helping the store gain profit, it made me feel forced to walk in a certain way around the shop and trapped. The intercept décor was clinical yet simple and modern, this contrasted to the huge array of products that they had for sale. The staff were mainly in the till area instead of being spread out throughout the store itself and they wore black tops with the brand of the store displayed on both front and back.

Overall, I did enjoy this shopping experience as it was cheap, simple and different but the fact that it was a one way system did pressure me into feeling that I should buy something, not an ideal situation when trying to encourage customer loyalty as many people do not like feeling pressured. Also the fact that there was no staff around the main shop floor was also a downside when looking for help or advice. I liked the fact that the sections in the store were clear and small, only showing the most relevant things for each section. The cheap prices and novelty products would definitely encourage me to go back.

View of the centre

We then made posters about our psycogeographical journeys around westfields writing how they made us feel and what type of shop altered how we reacted. We finished the session by creating a group of keywords in groups about the whole experience, as shown in the image below.

This is the poster, made from my visit.

Keywords from the CTS sessions


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