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How Fun Brand Initiatives Will Win Customers in 2014

  |  January 15, 2014   |  Comments

Brands that resolve to have fun -- but do so in an enlightened way -- will set themselves apart in 2014.

As we set goals and plans for the New Year, an oft-forgotten resolution is to have fun. Retail is at its best when product displays, sounds, graphics, scent and store team members blend together to transform commoditized shopping into a fun experience. Touch, smell and high energy levels only add to the excitement.

Brands that understand how to integrate fun into the experience will be the winners in 2014. Here are my favorite examples of fun brand initiatives:

1. Apple

Apple has set the gold standard in the retail experience. The brand has created temples for its products and services, many of which stay open late or around the clock. Visit the Apple Store on Fifth Avenue in New York City at 1:00 a.m., and you can't help but wonder whether any young people still frequent clubs or bars.


Image credit: Apple.com 

2. Uniqlo

Tadash Yanai is the founder and chairman of Uniqlo. His outsized philosophy is to "change the world by creating clothing with new and unique value, and to enable people all over the world to experience the joy, happiness and satisfaction of wearing such great clothes."

This attitude is directly translated in the brand's newest physical flagship store in Manhattan. The entrance features a brightly lit, multi-storied double escalator that leads to a cavernous space filled with clothes in seemingly infinite color variations, all at very inexpensive price points. If the long but fast-moving checkout lines are any indication, the fun factor of the experience transcends all age ranges-from pre-teens to grandmas. Uniqlo is changing the world one t-shirt at a time.


Uniqlo Flagship Store, image credits Magic Mirror and FreshnessMag

3. WestJet

Brands are capitalizing on giveaways to surprise and delight customers. One particularly fun example is Canadian airline WestJet's holiday 2013 stunt. Before their departure, a digital Santa Claus asked passengers what they wanted for Christmas. After the flight, as they waited in baggage claim, perfectly wrapped presents arrived on the baggage carousel-what they had wished for.

By listening to and realizing customers' desires, WestJet went above and beyond expectations to delight, surprise and gain loyalty. And naturally, the very charming, funny and heartwarming video of passengers receiving gifts garnered over 13 million views in 200 different countries. What a brilliant way to spread the fun.

4. Kate Spade

Kate Spade followed the launch of its Saturday brand with a series of pop-up shops in New York this summer. But these were pop-ups with a twist. The brand partnered with eBay to create a distinctive shopping experience that blends online and in-store shopping. Each brightly lit storefront displays samples of the products that can be ordered 24 hours a day via touchscreen. Orders are then delivered within an hour (or when convenient) by bike messenger.

The 24-hour, visually engaging pop-up catered to its big, urban audience who loves to get things when they want them (it's a city that never sleeps, after all). With a new item debuting each Saturday, the store creates a sense of exclusivity-it gives curious customers a reason to return. The store is not only about fashion items but also about technology, and it creates a perfect marriage between the two. The mixture of tech and fashion, the fun display (featuring stickers on the sidewalk that guide you through the experience, telling you to ‘Start here!"), and the cache of the pop-up store in New York all build a definitive hip factor. Kate Spade's Saturday shop is a unique experience that can inspire other brands to think outside the box.

Brands that resolve to have fun -- but do so in an enlightened way -- will set themselves apart in 2014.

Please share some of your favorite examples of fun brand experience.

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Thomas Mueller

Thomas Mueller is the chief experience officer, digital, leadership, and simplification, at Siegel+Gale based in New York. Thomas is often inspired by cycling trips through New York's Catskill Mountains, where he spends much of his free time renovating his country house and admiring the simple wonders of the constantly changing scenery.

As a brand experience visionary, he passionately believes in honing the essence of simplicity to enable remarkable experiences through any service, interaction or communication. For the past 17 years, Thomas has devoted his work on the client side at agencies to the pursuit of making users and brands equally happy.

Today, as chief experience officer at Siegel+Gale, he works with consumer brands, financial services firms, media companies and nonprofits such as American Express, Bank of America, Citi, IRS, Penske, United Mileage Plus, HP, SAP and Rotary International to help them leverage the power of simplicity. Prior to joining Siegel+Gale, Thomas worked with Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia, Arnold Worldwide and Razorfish.

Thomas holds a BFA in communications design from Fachhochschule München in Germany, an MFA in media design from the Art Center College of Design and a certificate from the Harvard Business School's Business Perspectives for Design Leaders program. He has contributed to such notable publications as the Wall Street Journal and Forrester Research Reports. His many awards include the New Media Invasion Gold Award, Cannes Silver Cyber Lion, Art Directors Club NY, The One Show, Webby, WebAwards and DesignInteract.


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