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In retail environments nothing stands still: products change, customers are unpredictable and retailers constantly have to stand back and analyze their success. Organizations can no longer depend on the traditional approach to gaining your attention. The integration of retail has become an essential tool for success. But what is retail? Great customer service? Eye-catching signage? A lasting brand image? Informative displays? Memorable marketing pieces? Yes. There are many ingredients in a retail concept. The product is obviously important, but so is the environment. Designing a retail facility is a process. But first you need the right design. Retail design is more than the placement of a new kiosk. It begins with the floor plan – creating movement from one retail destination to the next. Creating visuals from point to point. Leading your members through the branch and having them wanting to know more. Retail design can highlight your products and services in a setting that creates an inviting experience, promotes your brand, creates high expectations and demonstrates that you are forward-thinking for your growth and theirs. Much like visiting your favorite retailer, you want your environment to “speak” to the visitor with an enticing floor plan, enthusiastic color, bold educational “way finding” graphics and fixtures, and casework that integrates the ever-changing technology and delivery methods. All of this cannot be achieved in a traditional facility where technology is hidden behind desks and marketing graphics are “static” framed pieces. Even big retailers are trying to achieve a unique image by pushing the envelope of design. For instance, compare two completely different but successful retailers-Bass Pro Shop and Crate and Barrel. Bass Pro chose a rustic, log cabin look for the exterior design that makes them stand out amongst a sea of retail stores. The look is not what you would expect of a retail store, but based on its demographic market, it draws the attention of their target market-the male consumer. Bass Pro creates an environment that makes their consumers feel comfortable testing out fishing rods, looking through camping gear, and even feeds their aspirations to someday purchase that boat they have always wanted. Crate and Barrel, however, nourishes the hunger of every window-shoppers’ insatiable appetite. The exterior is often made up mostly of glass allowing for awesome opportunities to showcase their products. Although completely different, both retailers have incredibly successful brands that are highly recognizable. Maybe your credit union does not plan on peddling kitchen accessories, but the design methodology is still the same. Integrating pleasing colors and graphics can create fluid movement from each retail point to the next. The interior color palette includes everything from fabrics, wall and floor coverings, to paint. If a strong palette is composed, everything else in the interior will complement it. This palette creates the atmosphere that helps communicate who you are. Color is an essential part of our lives. Color can reinforce and differentiate a credit union’s brand as well as speak to certain age groups and demographic groups. Too often we take color for granted, not regarding which colors would be right to convey a particular message or environment. Along with color, textures and finish will make the difference between boring and breathtaking. Color has little or no meaning on its own. It is only when it is juxtaposed against other colors that its relationship to a credit union’s identity is highlighted and it contributes to the total environment encompassing line, texture, light, mass and color. Graphics also establish a consistent identity. There is a difference between branding graphics and marketing graphics. Marketing graphics promote products and services, but branding graphics set the language or tone for your facility. Branding graphics enhance the brand image of your facility. Technology is another important retail element. It allows you to display more than one message. Remember, “a picture is worth a thousand words?” Well, how many words are there for a thousand pictures? Do not hesitate to integrate technology. By strategically placing plasma screens or TV monitors throughout the interior, credit unions can intersperse their own marketing messages regarding products and services in with national headlines and news. While customers wait in line, they are entertained by checking out what’s on TV. Plasma screens are not the only technological “perk” included in retail or financial institutions these days. Tech Centers and complimentary Cafs have become a big hit. By integrating public computers with online access into the lobby, consumers are provided with yet another avenue for checking out products and services or seeing a scrolling message across monitors. Branding graphics can be applied to these areas to create nonverbal messages. Unique retail design can create a welcoming and memorable environment where your employees can get to know your members and take that opportunity to cross-sell products and services. In combination with pleasing interior color schemes and technology, can create a feeling of movement that members will remember.

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