Take a look at the photo above. 

It’s, of course, a photo of an Apple store.

Now, travel inside and take note of the store’s decor and organization. It’s simple and elegant, right? Okay, perhaps you may use a different set of words. Maybe you thought of clean or modern. Whatever words you selected, one thing is for sure: the store matches Apple’s brand motif.

Here’s what I mean: Just take a quick jump over to their website and you will see the same simple, clean, minimal layout. Their products have the same clean and elegant look and feel. 

Ah, do you see a pattern here?

Yup. Let’s go back into the store again.

This time, focus on the tables. Note how wide they are (some are wider than others).

Now, pay attention to the height. If you’ve ever been in an Apple store, you already know that they make it easy to play with their products. And the table heights are a big part of their “you are invited to play with me” story.

Okay, back to the tables. They are wide and seem solid and sturdy. Well, that’s because they are.

Oh, but wait. They are spacious enough to honor community and private space. Huh. Interesting.

Again, none of this is by accident. This is all by design.

While you’re focusing on the tables, what do they remind you of?

Take a moment and think about it. Go back into your childhood to a time of family and community.

It kind of reminds you of one of these, doesn’t it?:

Or, perhaps this picnic table:

Of course, as you know, the two above were adopted from this:

See, a picnic table tells a story. It says, “I’m here for family, community, and fun outings.” It is inviting. It is designed to be used. It is designed to accommodate many. 

When Apple began designing their retail spaces, they wanted to tell a story. They wanted to say, “Come on in. You are invited. Play. Explore. Have fun.” With the addition of their “picnic tables”, they sent a clear message that you, the consumer, were welcome. 

As you design your physical spaces, no matter how small, remember that it is an extension of your story. In fact, it may be the only contact a customer has with your brand. As such, your story, as it relates to them, may begin with that first physical contact. Therefore, no design element, no matter how mundane, must be done without consideration of your brand. 

Take the lowly door handle, for example. After all, a door handle is just a door handle, right?

Ah, not if you’re Neiman-Marcus. Remember, the story begins wherever the first contact is with your brand. And to retail outlet like Neiman Marcus, that contact is usually their website or retail store.

Okay, I think you get the point. If nothing else, give some thought to every aspect of your brand. No, you may not be able to afford a fancy door handle. But, you can afford a sticker that you might place on a plain box. 

Now, fill your second cup.

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