The Power of Place Branding on First Impressions
Amongst the number of things that go in to creating a great first impression, a successfully branded environment is up there as one of the most important. Visual brand identity has always been a vital component for sending out the right first impression, but organisations know that the challenge to keep their bricks and mortar offline proposition competitive now goes way beyond a nicely branded sign. The spaces that they create must be compelling enough to get their customers off their mobile devices and back to enjoying physical environments, in a new and unique way.

The *American Marketing Association uses the definition that “Brand recognition and other reactions are created by the accumulation of experiences with the specific product or service, both directly relating to its use, and through the influence of advertising, design, and media commentary.” This idea that branding isn’t just about a look and that it’s more about an experience is something that is challenging organisations everywhere, and is fast becoming the basis on which a customer will develop their first impression.

So, what is the secret to creating these spaces that are interesting and immersive but that remain true to a brand. We like to think of it as creating destinations as places with personality, and with a sense of place that makes them familiar enough for people to feel a connection. Take the example of Apple. It’s hard to find a more successful branding success story than Apple's. Their priority on product storytelling and building a community of customers comes through in everything they do. Their retail spaces are designed as spacious places with a simple layout for customers to spend time to explore and discuss the products. Creating the right first impression in their physical environments was almost in no doubt by using this coherent technique of keeping things simple and product focused.

Embrace your brands unique story
Finding your unique selling proposition is essential in any business, but after that you really need to consider your brand attributes. What do you want to be known for? How do you want to be perceived? Take Aston Martin - one of our recent project examples. As part of a signage revamp the design intent was to fully engage the customer with everything that Aston Martin stands for; exceptional design, excellent service and timeless luxury. An Internal brand wall, complete with polished stainless-steel lettering, halo illuminated gunmetal letters on the building exterior, freestanding directional signs and an impressive 6m-illuminated pylon were just some of the techniques used to give the customer that immediate sense of knowing what Aston Martin stood for. 

It’s more than signage
A building’s exterior signage is usually the first non-digital interaction that a customer has with the brand and so serves a vital purpose to promote the best first impression. But, everything the customer experiences from signage, customer service, layout and product information all needs to feel fully integrated, easy and familiar for the whole brand story to work. Merson Group have spent the last 75 years delivering design services and signage packages to many businesses, and during this time have witnessed the evolving requirements that a sign has for a business. We know that signage plays a key role in blurring digital and physical experiences, and that it helps create a feeling of cohesion for today’s customer who moves freely from channel to channel.

Value your customers
First impressions and lasting impressions are the foundations for your business to attract new customers, keep existing ones, and encourage them all to tell others about you. As brands continue to go the extra mile to leave their mark on their customers with immersive, unique places, we are excited to be on this journey with them.

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