Brand positioning via visual merchandising
Firstly, we try to understand the brand and their individual ethos, it immediately gives you a good starting point and helps us to submerge ourselves into their world.
It could be the beginning of the season, a specific product launch or a promotional campaign – we then have to have a good understanding of the brief and to continually consider this within the design process… So that the end result is relevant, not just something that looks nice. Ultimately, we need to attract attention and draw the customer towards the store.
Good design, innovative solutions, excellent production quality are our basics – but beyond this, we want to make the windows stand out from the store next door. To make the customer feel connected with the brand – either because a campaign message resonates with them or that they are made curious about what they see or that the window display is exciting and different to what they have seen before.
Attention-grabbing, sustainable & effective window displays
Sustainability and general eco-awareness are incredibly important to us.
Of course, within our industry, we strive to be innovative and forward-thinking in our design and how we ensure that this innovation and forward-thinking is applied within all aspects of our business.
More and more suppliers of the materials that we work with regularly are launching products which have been recycled or are recyclable or have a provenance – which means we can now specify these within our proposals from the start, giving the client choice.
Whether this is as basic as PVC-free acrylic and vinyl or FSC timber – there are more and more readily available innovative new materials such as acoustic wood wool, coconut husk pallets or mushroom packaging, which give us even more options.
Window displays are an extension of a brand and our clients and the consumers have an expectation and indeed, demand that we are ethical and eco-aware. We have always worked very hard to be forward-thinking and active in these respects. Being both attention-grabbing and sustainable is definitely possible, but it is important that it is done with diligence – and not just ticking the box. If we destroy the planet there will be no need for stores or windows… So, everything we do must be directed towards sustainability.
As a company that operates in an industry where potentially there is a lot of wastage, we are avid champions of recycling. Any waste that is returned from stores or produced through the process of manufacturing, we recycle. We monitor this internally through our factory and our project managers, where new ideas are welcomed and considered to push the business ever further into as sustainable and forward-thinking environment as possible.
Bringing together the client brief and the creativity
This varies from client to client. Some of our clients work with us from the concept design – where we talk about the overall big picture – we then develop mood boards, directions, material suggestions, and first-round sketch ideas.
These will then evolve into full 3D rendered visuals, which in turn can be broken down to specific stores or categories of the store. Again dependent on the client and project size, this process can take between 2-3 weeks or 6-8 weeks.
Other clients will have a direction and aesthetic already agreed when they start to talk with us, and in this case, our involvement will be centered around solutions: production techniques, what materials will work, how to manufacture, how to install, how to despatch. The next phase would be prototyping in our factory in Yorkshire – where we invite the clients to visit to view the prototype scheme in our mock shop window. This is the opportunity to tweak and change before full production begins. Each client or brief is allocated their own project manager who will work on their scheme through each stage from design right through to delivery or install which means there is always someone available who knows the project in-depth, personally.
Engaging the customer and the brand at first sight
This is really different with each project and each client. Our clients include Lacoste, Adidas, Topshop, Reiss, COS, Hugo Boss, and Primark – so you can tell they are all very different. Some windows are product-based and may or may not include mannequins. Other windows are campaign-based and could be more graphical than 3D props. What they all have in common is the trust they place in our solutions.
We ensure everything is designed, signed off and tested before installation – so by working closely with our clients we know what works for the customers.
For a sustainable brand success
Window displays are incredibly important because this is the first point of contact for the consumer – so it needs to be cohesive and in line with each specific brand. Press campaigns, advertising, online presence, collaborations, store design, and window displays all tell the story of the brand to the outside world.
Store windows are by far the most available, emotive and direct ways of interaction with potential and existing customers. The opportunity to appeal to all of their senses, to visually captivate them and attract them is what drives us with every project we work on.
It is essential that the window display is in keeping with the brand in style or image – it would not be acceptable if for example COS, who are known for their design aesthetic and strong sustainable ethics were to put a plastic Christmas tree in their windows or if Lacoste, who are known as modern cool brand with an impeccable heritage that sells a quality product were to use badly made 3D props in their windows as it would cheapen the image of the brand.
The windows tell a story and reinforce the strength and credibility of the brands. Being so heavily involved with our clients gives us an insight into understanding their needs – and we are honoured to be trusted by such companies. We see
ourselves as an extension of their teams so that together we can deliver impactful window schemes.
Every person who works within Blacks, no matter what their role is part of a team. And as a full team we consider all of the above in every step of our development, which we believe is what sets us apart from our competitors. Passion & innovation, with sustainability as an over arching consideration in everything we do.