Thursday, October 13

Brands in Public Spaces

In celebration of this week's Indian Summer, I thought I would take note of a few public spaces that have become branded.  Or better said, public spaces that brands have taken over with a branded experience.

I was in Bryant Park in NYC the other day, and noticed the Southwest Porch.  It took me a minute to realize that it was a public space that had been designed by Southwest Airlines to be used by anyone in the park, complete with seating areas, swinging chairs, and a bar.  All tastefully branded Southwest ... along with the plug in stations to refuel your battery ... and check on your flight status.  Southwest is now servicing LaGuardia Airport!

Of course this little (not so little) porch area is right across the park from the HSBC Reading Room -- a pop up library of sorts where people can borrow a book (for free) and sit down and read it for a bit.  It's a concept that dates back to the Depression (when people needed a place to go to kill some time), but is now sponsored and logo'd by the HSBC bank.

Something similar is going on in the Flatiron District in NYC too, with the opening of a new Marimekko store on the Western side of Madison Park.  Out in front of the store and also along the park, the brand has placed its signature graphic designs on beanbag chairs and table umbrellas.  The Marimekko design is obvious from way far away, so it's instant brand recognition and awareness for their new store.  And giving city folks a place to take a load off as they stroll by ... whether they go into the store or not.

In all cases, the brands are attempting to create touchpoints where none existed before.  And if you've read my book, you know that I believe that almost anything can be a touchpoint.  Certainly a park bench and a cafe umbrella.

Outdoor advertising isn't new, that's for sure.  But providing a new benefit (rest and relaxation) to your consumers while you provide a branded message is kind of innovative.  And the branding isn't exactly "knock you over the head".  It's meant more as a subtle reminder of who has taken the effort at providing you this service.  Perhaps if those consumers using the service appreciate it, the brand equity will rise.  It certainly did for me.

Just one part of a comprehensive brand experience across multiple touchpoints -- perhaps some more hard hitting and directly related than others.  Nice inspiration for those of use looking to add some uniqueness to our own marketing plans.

What's your experience?  Jim.

Jim Joseph
President of Lippe Taylor
Author of The Experience Effect

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